General Motors is trying to get as much use as possible out of the current-generation Chevrolet Volt's plug-in hybrid powertrain.

A very similar version without the plug is used in the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid now going on sale—and the Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid and Chinese-market Buick Lacrosse Hybrid powertrains derive from it as well.

That makes four vehicles that use the same fundamental technology.

DON'T MISS: How Similar Are Chevy Volt & Malibu Hybrid Powertrains? Very Much; Here's Why (Apr 2015)

The question is whether that will have a positive financial impact for General Motors.

The Volt is still a fairly low-volume model, but using similar components in additional models could help amortize development costs.

Consequently, the Malibu Hybrid and other models could be key to driving down the costs of GM hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, argues Wards Auto.

2017 Chevrolet Volt

2017 Chevrolet Volt

The Malibu Hybrid uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, along with a Voltec drive unit similar to the one in the Volt.

Engineers even tuned the sedan's powertrain characteristics to be like those of the Volt, given the positive customer feedback, GM's chief engineer for global electrification Greg Hubbard told Wards.

The Malibu Hybrid, he said, is GM's best chance in years at driving down the cost of its hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid: technical details revealed

As a mid-size sedan, the Malibu could potentially appeal to a wider audience than the smaller, hatchback Volt.

But the flexibility of the basic Voltec system could be just as important.

The Buick Lacrosse Hybrid that will go on sale in China later this year uses the same powertrain as the Malibu Hybrid.

2016 Cadillac CT6

2016 Cadillac CT6

And even the redesigned eAssist mild-hybrid powertrain that will be offered on small numbers of pickup trucks in California this year reportedly shares some components with the Volt system as well.

To test the waters, GM will build just 500 Chevy Silverado and 200 GMC Sierra trucks with the eAssist system this year.

MORE: Buick Lacrosse Hybrid unveiled at Beijing Auto Show, for China only

In addition, the upcoming 2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid uses a Volt-based drive system, with some changes dictated by the car's rear-wheel drive engine configuration and its sportier bent.

It makes for a wide array of models using a similar set of components.

2017 Buick Lacrosse Hybrid (Chinese spec)

2017 Buick Lacrosse Hybrid (Chinese spec)

In that sense, GM's line of hybrids and plug-in hybrids is becoming more like the rest of its lineup.

It's fairly standard practice in the industry for multiple models to share platforms and conventional powertrains.

So why shouldn't they share hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains too?


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