The three automakers have about 500 engineers who have been working for the past 18 months on the joint development of the next-generation hybrid engine technology, which combines a battery-powered electric motor with a conventional gasoline combustion engine, company representatives said on Friday on the sidelines of an industry trade meeting.
The so-called dual-mode hybrid technology that has been under development by the consortium includes an onboard fuel-optimization computer that determines when and at what speeds the two motors will be used for power and how the on-board battery will be recharged.
Development of the transmission -- the core of the project -- is expected to cost about US$300 million for the partners, said Andreas Truckenbrodt, executive director of DaimlerChrysler's hybrid programs. The remainder of the investment represents the cost of integrating the new hybrid system with other vehicle components, he said.
"What's often forgotten about the hybrid technology is that you have to put it into the car," Truckenbrodt told reporters.
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