ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) hosted its annual Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Calif. last week. The symposium featured engineers from almost every major automaker — Ford, GM, Hyundai-Kia, Nissan, Volvo, Toyota and Honda, among many others.
I attended the afternoon session on Wednesday, February 10. First, I heard from Timothy Grewe, GM’s Electrification Chief Engineer. He introduced us to the 2017 Cadillac CT6 luxury sedan plug-in vehicle. It comes equipped with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder direct-injected gasoline engine with a new hybrid transmission, a new traction power inverter, a liquid-cooled, an 18.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an on-board battery charger.
“It’s a Chevrolet Volt on steroids,” Grewe said of the new CT6 plug-in vehicle. “We actively cool each [battery] cell. We take all of the uncertainly out of it. We made a tray to hold the modules. We basically cut the whole back out. It really improved the car’s stiffness. It made the driveability better and 300 pounds lighter. This is a great example of double-sided cooling. I think the industry is headed that way. It’s a very elegant solution. It complies with the new Chinese requirements.”
The 2017 Cadillac CT6 plug-in vehicle can be charged in just four hours with a 240-volt charger. However, the engineer said most customers charge their Chevrolet Volt or Cadillac ELR overnight using a 110-volt charging cord. It offers an electric range of 30 miles and a total range of about 300 miles. The CT6 features three driving modes: Normal, Sport and Hold (to save battery charge for later use).
“Everybody gets a huge smile on their face when driving this car,” GM’s Electrification Chief Engineer said. “You can drive in almost any city without starting the engine. It’s very easy to operate this vehicle in EV mode. It has a huge speed range that’s very benign to the customer. There are times when you want EV speed driving. It’s the best of all worlds.”
The gasoline-only CT6 will arrive in dealerships in the first quarter and will start at $53,495. The CT6 plug-in hybrid will launch in the late summer or early fall. Pricing has not yet been announced for that model. However, I’m being told it will be built and imported from China.
Then, I heard from Dean Schlingmann, Senior Hybrid Engineer at the Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center. He talked about the 2016 Hyundai Sonata plug-in hybrid vehicle. It comes equipped with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine paired with a 50-kW electric motor that produces a total of 202 horsepower. The plug-in model features a 360-volt lithium polymer battery system.
“They’re going to be a minority among Sonata sales,” the senior hybrid engineer said of the plug-in model. “We offer a new coasting guide. We will predict a target speed. Customers can take their foot off the brake and coast. Drivers will understand and adopt the technique over time.”
The all-new Sonata features a new front grille, an active airflap system, a 0.24 drag coefficient and an increase in the use of high-strength steel from 21 percent to 51 percent. It comes with a split battery pack with one half under the trunk and the other half located under the rear seats. The luxury sedan can be charged in just three hours using a 240-volt charger and about nine hours with a 110-volt charging cord. It offers an electric range of 27 miles and a total range of 600 miles if the gas tank is filled up.
Schlingmann said the Sonata plug-in vehicle project was the first time the interior design team worked closely with the fuel economy team. In the past, these divisions worked independently.
Look for the 2016 Hyundai Sonata plug-in in dealerships right now. Pricing starts at $34,600 and goes up from there.
For more information about the SAE Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, visit http://www.sae.org/events/hybridev/