Save Fuel in Hybrid Pickups

By dancurranjr On March 27th, 2009

silveradoWhen one thinks of fuel efficiency, pickup trucks don’t usually come to mind.

But consider that pickup trucks make up more than 12 per cent of all vehicles sold in Canada, averaging around 200,000 units per year for the past decade. And consider also that for businesses large and small, from family farms to construction companies, owning a pickup truck is a necessity and not a choice. These vehicles are tools, and fuel is a cost of doing business.

Improving the fuel economy of pickup trucks could save a lot of fuel, keep a lot of pollutants out of the environment, and save business a lot of money. Makes good sense, right?

Manufacturers have responded by making gasoline and diesel engines more fuel efficient, relatively speaking, while maintaining the power needed to haul and tow heavy loads.

Now, General Motors has introduced a full hybrid powertrain that will maximize fuel economy without giving up any of the heavy hauling capability for which these trucks are needed.

The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 hybrid pickups have been rated by Canada’s Energuide at 9.8 L/100 km in the city and 9.2 L/100 km on the highway for two-wheel drive trucks, and 10.5/9.8 L/100 km city/highway for four-wheel drive versions, according to a review posted on

To put this in perspective, rear-wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra hybrids have better city fuel economy than six-cylinder versions of the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and better than some popular four-cylinder vehicles, such as the Subaru Legacy and Toyota Matrix AWD.

This feat is even more impressive when you consider that the powerplant in the Sierra and Silverado is neither a four- nor a six-cylinder, but a 6.0-litre V8 with a 2,767 kg (6,100 lbs) towing and 662 kg (1,459 lbs) payload capacity.

The trucks pull away smoothly from a stop and accelerate well onto the freeway. At cruising speed, the engine, equipped with Active Fuel Management (AFM) and late intake valve closing (LIVC) technology, will shut down four cylinders and cruise in V4 mode. The hybrid system can also provide a power boost at speed, to keep the engine operating for longer periods in V4 mode.

The hybrid trucks use a 3.08 gear set, smaller than other 1500 series trucks. The combination of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and electric boost means less gear is needed to get the truck moving. Less gear means less fuel consumption and fewer emissions.

Fuel consumption and emissions are reduced in several other ways as well. When idling, the engine does not run. At low speed, the truck will drive on electricity alone. Depending on load and environmental conditions, it will accelerate up to 48 km/h on electricity alone.

With GM’s two-mode hybrid system, the electric power used to propel the vehicle is generated by the hybrid system itself. When the brakes are applied or the vehicle is coasting, the electric motors within the hybrid system create electricity that is stored in the 300-volt battery located under the rear seat. This stored energy is used to move the vehicle, and the regenerative braking cycle is renewed.

General Motors offered hybrid versions of the last-generation pickup trucks from 2005 to 2007, but these were “mild” systems, which shut off the engine at idle and provided 120-volt outlets for power tools, and could not drive on electricity alone.

The Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra hybrids are available in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive versions. Towing and hauling capability is slightly less with four-wheel drive.

They are also available in two trim levels. The base trim level is essentially the conventional LT trim, plus power driver’s seat, automatic climate control, XM satellite radio, wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth telephone connectivity, head curtain air bags, 18-inch polished aluminum alloy wheels with low rolling resistance tires, EZ Lift tailgate, soft tonneau cover, locking differential and trailering package. The MSRP is $46,725 (2WD) and $50,875 (4WD).

The premium trim level adds cloth bucket seats with six-way driver and passenger power adjustment, navigation system, Bose audio system, fog lamps, rear park assist, power-adjustable pedals, universal home remote, body-colour mirrors, rear window defroster and three-piece hard tonneau cover. MSRP is $53,905 (2WD) and $58,055 (4WD).

SOURCE: South Asian Post

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