Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hybrid Trucks

Unlike hybrid cars and SUVs, the hybrid truck has had a limited consumer response and a limited production. There are several reasons for this, but it really is a shame. Hybrid technology is designed to improve fuel economy and like SUVs, trucks don't have very good mpg. They are designed for other things, towing, drafting, carrying. In other words, they are the workhorses of the vehicle family. the people who buy trucks aren't as concerned with the fuel consumption, so much as the towing capacity for instance.

But hybrid technology can improve both fuel economy and power at the same time. The problem is the price tag. It's too easy for someone who is purchasing a truck to convince themselves the extra price for the electric motor just isn't worth it. If you're running a business, the bottom line is the bottom line. And the $4,000 extra you pay for the hybrid motor is hard to justify.

There are counterarguments, however. Along with the electric motor, you also get a large battery pack that you can run electric hardware off of. And the hybrid trucks come with plugs to make it easy.  You also get higher towing capacity and more power even at low speeds.

You also get the already mentioned higher fuel economy and more power at lower speeds than you might expect. Going from 15 mpg to 20 mpg is worth more than going from 40 to 45 mpg. If your hybrid truck is being driven 12,000 miles a year, you'll be buying 200 gallons less every year. At today's gas prices (say $3.75/gallon) you'll spend $750 less a year. That means even at $4,000 extra you have to pay for the hybrid motor, you can still make that up during the life time of the car. And the more you drive, the quicker you'll make the hybrid truck pay for itself.

Unfortunately, even if you are interested, there aren't a lot of choices out there in hybrid trucks. There's the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid and GMC Sierra Hybrid.  Dodge also has the Ram Pickup Hybrid. But that's it.  With so few options, it's not hard to wonder why not many are opting in.  Other car makers have dabbled in the field with demonstration hybrid trucks, but no one else has followed up with it. I'm hopeful, like hybrid minivans, more will start coming out sooner rather than later. But with everything else going on right now in the automotive field, I get the feeling there's just not enough of a demand.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

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