GM’s New Hybrid Trucks

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We’ve seen this before.

A couple of years ago, GM manufactured hybrid versions of its popular Chevy Silverado and GMX Sierra models. But they came up short. Mainly because of their outdated two-model hybrid system that delivered questionable gains in fuel economy.

So now, GM is giving this another go with their new eAssist 2016 models of the Silverado and Sierra. Their promise is 2-mpg improvements in the pickups’ fuel economy ratings. But even if you’re sold, you probably won’t get a chance to buy one.

The reason is that only 700 hybrids will be manufactured – 200 Sierras and 500 Silverados. To put this in perceptive for you, GM sold a little shy of 825,000 of these models in 2015. Which means the hybrids will make up the negligible 0.08% of its light duty truck production.

The idea is for GM to test the market.  And if the hybrids do well, they promise to adjust the numbers moving forward.

To start with, the hybrid pickups will only be sold in California dealerships.

For the Silverado, the eAssist will only be available on the 1500 Crew Cab 1LT 2WD model. For the Sierra, it will be optioned o nthe 1500 SLT Crew Cab 2WD model with the SLT Premium Plus package. And that means you’ll also be getting LED lights, Apple’s CarPlay and Anroid Auto, a Bose audio system, a heated steering wheel, lane keep assist… you get the idea.

So how does eAssist work?

It couples the 5.4L V8 engine with a small electric motor and a 0.45-kWh battery pack. The output is impressive 355 HP and 383 lb-ft of torque. GM claims that the battery will only add an additional 100 lbs. of weight, allowing the hybrid model to tow up to 9,400 lbs.

The electric motor gives the model a nice boost of acceleration when you need it, with 13 HP and 44 lb-ft of torque. It will also let the engine run in a 4-cylinder mode for stretched periods of time. The eAssist system relies on regenerative braking for powering the onboard electrical systems. It also adds start/stop functionality to the powertrain.

And if you manage to get your hands on one of these pickups, you’ll also be enjoying a 6% improvement in aerodynamics thanks to their soft tonneaus and active grille shutters.

But wait, what’s the cost?

You’ll be surprised – the eAssist option comes in at $500. The hard part is actually getting one. At least for now.

What do you think about the new GM hybrids? Would you own one?

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