Automakers to Improve Hybrid Engine

The research teams of three automakers have joined forces to develop a new hybrid technology that the companies hope would trump the current leading implementation offered by Toyota. A team of 500 researchers have been working for a year and a half on the technology, which would appear in cars by the end of next year, Reuters reports.

BMW, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors are currently developing an engine that offers improvements over the current line of thinking on combination combustion and electric motors. One of the enhancements includes a computer that would optimize fuel consumption ben deciding when to use the two motors and when the battery needs to be recharged.

Development of the transmission itself is expected to cost $300 million alone, with the entire project eclipsing $1 billion. While the automakers concede the project is expensive, they say combining their efforts would bring to the market the best possible product, and a motor that is significantly ahead of its rivals.

Three configurations would be made available: a front-wheel drive system and two rear-wheel drive engines. Specifications of the engine can be adjusted based on the needs of each manufacturer, representatives said.

The first cars based on the system would come from GM, which expects to have Tahoe and Yukon SUVs based on the system out in late 2007. DaimlerChrysler would use it in its 2008 Dodge Durango, and BMW expects to begin integrating the hybrid engine sometime between 2009 and 2011.

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