You could forgive the customer for thinking of it as a 285-horsepower portable generator on wheels.
General Motor's (GM) parallel hybrid pickup truck can help power a construction site or campground with its pair of 110-volt electrical outlets. But it's also a fully capable V-8 powered pickup truck that can haul and tow just as much as its gasoline counterpart. It just happens to get 10-15% better fuel economy and have those power outlets.
"This is a hybrid with a twist," said Tom Stephens, vp, GM vehicle integration. "Unlike our competitors, who are looking to use the electric motor as a power assist on a small powertrain and giving up some utility to accomplish that, we give you all the acceleration, towing and hauling capability you've come to expect by using a truck V-8 engine.”
Stephens said the energy captured through regenerative braking and being able to shut off the engine at idle improves fuel economy by up to 15%.
"That means I can tow boats, haul a full load, climb steep grades – all the situations that I buy a V-8 for, and still have improved fuel economy,” Stephens said. “This is aimed right at the sweet spot of the new hybrid market.”
At a stoplight, the gasoline engine stops running, but most of the accessories continue working on stored electrical power. When the light turns green and the driver steps on the accelerator, the gasoline engine kicks in again.
Based on the GMT-800 full-sized pickup, known to consumers as the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, the hybrid truck features a 5.3-liter Vortec V-8 engine, the same as the conventional versions of the truck. The hybrid propulsion package will be available as an option on GM's full-sized pickups beginning in 2004. Pricing is still being determined, although it is expected to be competitive.
This fuel-efficient, full-powered pickup fits with GM's strategy of introducing hybrid propulsion in large market segments and in vehicles that use more gas.
"We believe hybrids are going to make the most sense in higher fuel consumption vehicles, and that includes pickup trucks," Stephens explained. "If you do the math, you can see that we can actually save significantly more fuel converting a 20-mpg vehicle into a hybrid than a 30-mpg vehicle, especially if it's a vehicle that sells in high volumes, not a niche vehicle."