What Happened To GM's Hybrid Pickups?

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

One of the most conspicuous absences from GM’s full-size truck reveal was the lack of any hybrid variants. The highly-touted but slow selling hybrid full-size trucks and SUVs were never intended to be the darlings of America’s truck space, but they played an important behind the scenes role for the company.

A hybrid truck may have been as appealing to the average truck buyer as a camouflage tutu, but under the arcane CAFE rules, there were plenty of credits to be had by producing a hybrid truck or large SUV. For the nitty gritty details, a longer summary is available here. For those with an aversion to long, complex explanations of government regulation s, let’s just say that the “credits” applied to every hybrid truck or large SUV produced would help a given auto maker reach its CAFE target, because the credits can not only be applied to the trucks themselves, but to other “underperforming vehicles” – or retained for use in later years.

But with GM cutting its R&D budgets, the “two-mode hybrid” system is set to die. In its place is a new Gen V small-block V8 with direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder-deactivation. Final fuel economy numbers aren’t available yet, but we do know that GM is going at it alone with their “two truck” strategy, offering the large trucks alongside a smaller pickup with superior fuel economy. Unlike Ford and Chrysler, the V6 Silverado/Sierra won’t play such an important role for the General.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Hoser Hoser on Dec 19, 2012

    The only person I knew who had a hybrid GM truck had the generator/starter(something like that?) fail, and whatever company had made the part went out of business, no replacements were available, so it ended up getting bought back. I can't imagine many people lining up for that again.

    • KixStart KixStart on Dec 19, 2012

      GM's first foray into "hybrids" was a 2005-or-so Sierra/Silverado that has a BAS (Belt-Alternator-Starter) system. They weren't widely available and barely sold. They didn't actually improve fuel eocnomy much, if at all, but the AC power outlet was, as I recall, standard on it and it was a pretty good idea. I think they tried pitching the truck to contractors based on having power available.

  • El scotto El scotto on Dec 19, 2012

    A hybrid truck would be good for those who live in 'burbs and drive their crewcabs to the cubicle canyons. Leather seats and a moonroof? It might tow the boat, but not that often.

  • Axual Axual on Dec 19, 2012

    Maximum Bob Lutz and Via Motors will do a better job than GM ... and they are using GM architecture. http://www.viamotors.com GM should stick to making a profit off the American taxpayer. They seem to be most successful at that activity.

    • KixStart KixStart on Dec 19, 2012

      They might be using a GM truck and engine but they're not using GM hybrid architecture. It's a pure series hybrid. Bob Lutz didn't have anything to do with development, they signed him on late in the game because they felt they needed a face to get business and cred. I'd bet a quarter they paid him mostly in stock.

  • Ajla Ajla on Dec 19, 2012

    "Unlike Ford and Chrysler, the V6 Silverado/Sierra won’t play such an important role for the General." Final fuel and power figures aren't out yet on the 4.3l, but I think GM is planning on it being at least as popular as the Pentastar RAM. The press release GM sent out claimed the V6 would be available in all configurations.