General Motors is developing several new technologies to make its light trucks more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly, while providing users with a more flexible vehicle.
In the first quarter of next year, GM plans to start producing its FlexPower pickup truck, a vehicle equipped with a hybrid propulsion system that should improve fuel economy by 10%-15% while providing 120 volts of onboard power for construction tools.
GM plans to build about 500 FlexPower trucks next year to see how the market reacts to them.
Product & marketing manager Dan Tigges told Fleet Owner that FlexPower trucks are not typical hybrids because they do not have electric motors. New electronics and software, combined with a 42-volt torque converter, shuts down the engine as the driver steps on the brake, then restarts it when the driver presses the accelerator.
This system eliminates the need for a generator and starter, Tigges said.
GM is also working on a system called "displacement on demand," with technology that should be ready in two to three years. It controls the number of engine cylinders in use based on load demand.