The GM/Daimler-Chrysler technology does represent a real advance - a 25% efficiency improvement over traditional SUV engines, using electronic controls on the engine to keep it operating at peak efficiency while more directly applying its torque to the road, rather than indirectly as is done with the Prius.
The new transmissions involved are scheduled to be on sale by 2007. Whether or not they make waves may depend on the latest Highway Bill. According to Salon.com, there's a fight brewing between those who want to allow single-occupant hybrid vehicles in California's High-Occupancy-Vehicle lanes, over whether the proposed 45 mpg rule should be the law, or would lower-mileage hybrids (including the GM and Daimler-Chrysler future models, and Ford's hybrids) also be permitted. Can the American love affair with SUVs really last much longer?