GM Rethinks Hybrid Option
General Motors plans to drop the hybrid option in many of its pickup truck lines in years to come. While still available in 2013 models, some GM pickups will switch to the company’s new fuel-efficient gasoline engine starting with the 2014 model year. And there is growing speculation that GM will make a similar move with its full-sized hybrid SUVs in future years.
The change immediately impacts the Chevy Silverado Hybrid and GMC Sierra Hybrid, GM’s full-size hybrid pickup trucks. Both were introduced in 2009 and have not garnered much interest. Both have been among the slowest selling models in GM’s line.
In a recent preview of its 2014 model trucks, GM announced that the Silverado and Sierra pickups would no longer offer the company’s Two-Mode Hybrid system and instead would use direct injection gasoline engines based on GM EcoTech3 technology.
EcoTec3 engines use direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable valve timing to boost fuel economy. GM says these three technologies allow the engines to deliver the most of power, torque, and efficiency across a broad range of operating conditions. For instance, under a light load, two cylinders in the V6 version of the EcoTech3 engine and four cylinders in the V8 version are deactivated. This allows the pickups to run using essentially a much more fuel efficient V4 engine.
With the 2014 Sierra and Silverado, GM will offer three different engines based on the EcoTec3 technology. There will be a V6 and two V8 versions. Hard fuel economy numbers for pickups with these engines are not yet available. However, GM claims that while a pickup with the new V6 engine will not quite meet the mileage of the current hybrid, it will be much less expensive. The company hopes the lower pricing will help increase sales of these pickup trucks.
Beyond low sales, there are other reasons for the shift from the Two-Mode Hybrid system to EcoTec3 technology. The Two-Mode Hybrid system was the product of a joint development effort between GM, BMW, and the old DaimlerChrysler. The partnership fell apart several years ago, leaving GM as the only company selling the system. In fact, the Two-Mode Hybrid is used in the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, and GMC Yukon Hybrid, as well as the 2013 BMW X6 ActiveHybrid.
With the development partnership dissolved and GM replacing the Two-Mode Hybrid option with EcoTec3 technology in its pickup trucks, it seems logical that GM will also discontinue the hybrid option in future Escalade, Tahoe, and Yukon models, as well as with other SUVs.Big Hybrids Could Soon Be Extinct