At the LA Auto Show, GM showed us its new mild hybrid eAssist technology on the Buick LaCrosse. As promised, this technology is making its way to other models, with the Buick Regal with eAssist netting a 26/37 MPG rating.
The eAssist mild hybrid system is different from many other hybrid systems on the market. Rather than the small, 15-horsepower electric motor driving the wheels directly, the eAssist system provides a bit of extra “oomph” during acceleration, which is when the most fuel is used (getting the car going.) Additionally, the eAssist system shuts down the engine at a complete stop and drastically cuts fuel consumption during deceleration. In essence, the eAssist system optimizes the 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine that the Buick Regal comes standard with. The six-speed automatic transmission remains in place as well.
Regenerative braking helps charge a 115V lithium-ion battery that sits in the trunk (taking up about 3 cubic feet of space), and all of these improvements are good enough to substantially boost the Regal’s gas mileage. The standard Buick Regal earned a 19/30 MPG rating, but with eAssist the rating goes up to a much-more impressive 26/37 rating, an overall increase in gas mileage of about 25% without the addition of an big, expensive battery or full parallel hybrid system. It should be a cheaper alternative to comparable hybrids and GM seems to be making an effort to bring its hybrids
The eAssist system is a clever way to bring cheaper hybrid systems to more cars and car buyers. The 2012 Buick Regal eAssist will officially debut this week at the Chicago Auto Show. GM hasn’t put a price on the hybrid system for either vehicle yet, but it should be well worth the extra few bucks for a 25% bump in fuel economy, don’t you agree?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMI’s. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.