TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Until now, General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler AG and BMW AG were known only to be spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” for a new dual-mode hybrid system they are collaboratively developing.

However, at Friday’s session at the Management Briefing Seminars: “A Case Study in Collaboration: The Development of a Global Hybrid System,” company officials are expected to reveal together they are investing $310 million in the core technology for a new dual-mode hybrid system and likely will end up spending more than $1 billion overall to bring their respective systems to market by the end of the decade.

Others may have gotten the jump on hybrid-electric vehicles, but the HEV partners say they have a better idea when it comes to the technology.

“We're convinced the concept we're following is superior (to HEV leader Toyota Motor Corp.'s),” DC's Andreas Truckenbrodt, executive director-Hybrid Powertrain Programs, said last April.

The new hybrid powertrain system, developed through a cooperative launched less than two years ago and ready to begin appearing in vehicles in 2007, integrates electric motors with an electronic continuously variable transmission and a step-ratio automatic transmission that features four fixed gearsets.

Compared with current HEV technology, the GM/DC/BMW design is more economical in highway driving and with larger-engine vehicles, the partners contend, and is well tuned to truck applications because it produces more torque to provide for a higher towing capacity.

The so-called Two-Mode Hybrid system developed by the three auto makers fits into a conventional transmission housing and can be scaled in size to accommodate the appropriate vehicle and engine type. The technology works with 4- or all-wheel-drive configurations.

The $310 million will be spent jointly on core technologies such as the system’s transmission, control software and battery technology. However, each auto maker is likely to dole out hundreds of millions more for brand-specific calibration, vehicle integration and other activities.

GM, alone, is expected to add about 75 engineers at the group’s hybrid center in Troy, MI, during the next year as part of the development effort.

dwinter@wardsauto.com