Let’s start with the fact that the sales of pickup trucks is a different marketplace than standard passenger vehicles. For most users, truck buyers need their trucks for one primary purpose –to carry and move commercial goods. Just picture, plumbers, delivery companies, farmers, and you get the picture. Frankly, secondary to this mission for many are things like fuel economy, fancy styling and other non-commercial factors.
However, that being said, our friends at Reedman-Toll Chevrolet said that GM had a hunch that there would be a market for a line of pickups trucks that had hybrid technology incorporated. After all, environmental concerns are quite wide spread now and most American’s express a degree of worry about the environment. So from this intuition (and probably tons of market research) was borne the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid.
It should serve as no surprise that the Silverado Hybrid shares the same technology as the hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Tahoe, Cadillac and GMC Yukon. All fourare built on the same drivetrain technology platform. In particular, a 6.0 litre V8 gasoline engine, a 300 volt nickel-metal hydride battery package and a two-mode EVT (Electronically Variable Transmission). If you’re not familiar with the EVT it is a marvel in engineering. In the same physical space as an ordinary Chevy truck’s automatic transmission are two 80 hp electric motor/generators, three planetary gearsets and four traditional hydraulic clutch packs.
So how does all this stuff work? In simple terms, the first mode is for lower speeds when the truck operates primarily on electric power (or a combination of the electric and gasoline power). When the truck comes to a stop, the gas engine shuts itself off to save fuel. Electricity for the battery pack is supplied by capturing the energy that is normally wasted when the brakes are applied. Mode two operates at highway speeds. The motor/generators work with the planetary gearsets, so the EVT is capable of an infinite range of gear ratios just like a continuously variable transmission. To handle heavy loads, GM’s CVT does so by locking the planetary gearsets to let the four heavy-duty fixed gears – still the most efficient way to manage power and fuel economy – take over when carrying heavy loads or towing trailers.
The two-wheel drive (2WD) version of the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid trumpets the important stats for a full-size pickup. It can tow up to 6,100 pounds and the bed can haul a little more than 1,400 pounds. And still deliver 20 mpg city/23 highway. Unlike the wide variety of standard Silverado body styles, the hybrid version is only available in a four-door “crew cab” body style with a short pickup box. There are, however, two trim levels, 1HY and 2HY, and a choice of either two- or four-wheel drive. And, let’s be honest, 23 mpg may still seem terribly inferior to your average Toyota Prius economy but try hauling a load of cement blocks to a job site in a Prius hybrid.