Opel is planning a hybrid version of the next generation Astra.

According to an exclusive Automobilwoche report, the General Motors Europe unit is working on a hybrid variant of the next Delta platform that will also support a future Saab entry model.

"Thirtenn different models are based on this architecture," a GM development engineer told the German auto trade weekly. "A hybrid version is especially important for the US market where the Astra has recently gone on sale under the Saturn label."

The type under development is a classic two-mode hybrid as used currently by Toyota (which licenses the technology to other automakers including Nissan). According to GM vice president, Bob Lutz, this technology is inherently more efficient than the E-Flex-System. E-Flex is the name GM will give to plug-in electric cars that GM is hoping to market from 2010. However the platform will be developed to accommodate E-Flex as well, the engineer reportedly said.

Opel showed a diesel hybrid concept of the Astra at the Detroit motor show in 2005.