Hybrid Truck ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Hybrid Truck

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hybrid Truck

Hybrid trucks are few and far between at the moment, although that should be changing soon. Given the recent announcement of the upcoming Chevy Silverado Hybrid and GMC Sierra Hybrid (available in the fall of 2007), I thought it might be a good time to talk about the history of Hybrid Trucks in general.

So far, the choices when it comes to hybrid vehicles has been limited. At first, the modern hybrids were cars, i.e. the Prius and the Insight. Then the Honda Civic Hybrid. It wasn't until Ford came out with the Ford Escape Hybrid that some variety could be seen.

The first hybrid trucks to emerge were the GMC Sierra Hybrid and Chevy Silverado Hybrid pick up trucks, but they really weren't much of a hybrid at all. In fact, they are just pick up trucks, with what was termed a 'mild' hybrid system. All they have are integrated starter and generators (ISG) along with regenerative braking. This system allows the truck to stop its gas engine when stopped (say at red lights) and then start back up by stepping on the gas. As hybrids go, it wasn't much of an improvement in fuel economy or money well spent. Which is why sales have never been strong.

These mild hybrid trucks were a necessary step in the right direction, however. GM learned a lot from their mistakes. Most importantly, they realised in order for a customer to pay a premium price for hybrid technology in their trucks, the system they buy had better be a hybrid.

And so the hybrid trucks coming out next year will be something different. With the dual-mode hybrid system developed jointly by BMW, DaimlerChrysler and GM (by investing over $1 billion), an efficient hybrid that provides a 25% fuel economy savings plus plenty of power should be a welcome change for all.

The surprising part is how negatively some hybrid (and car) enthusiasts have reacted to the news. I would think such fuel economy increases would be congratulated, not derided. But some of the comments I have seen elsewhere have been surprising. It seems some people want to get rid of all trucks and SUVs and replace them with small, efficient cars. That's unrealistic and foolish.

As a country, we should be working towards creating more efficient and better vehicles all around. Trucks, SUVs, Minivans, cars, commercial trucks, delivery vehicles, etc... need to be improved across the board because they are all necessary to keep this nation moving. Will hybirds make our economy oil independent? No. But they will make us less dependent. And hybrid vehicles are available today, not tomorrow.

Hybrid trucks (not the mild hybrid trucks of the past and present) should be welcomed with cheers, not boos.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Like it or not, the big stuff burns the most gas and has more room for improvement than the sub-compact car.

The semi-hybrid trucks did get one thing right for their end customers - they used the electric motor to let the truck funtion as a generator and output 120 VAC. I heard that this was popular for construction sites.


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