Is there future for gas/electric Hybrid pickup trucks? GM is currently the only one out of the “big 5” pickup truck manufactures (Ford, GM, Nissan, Ram, and Toyota) who is experimenting with the electric hybrid technology for pickups.
The latest eAssist Hybrid system is a “mild” hybrid. The truck cannot run on electricity alone. The 0.45 kWh 24-cell battery and the electric motor are there to assist the 5.3L V8 during acceleration and in passing maneuvers. It also improves city fuel efficiency by about 13%. This translates to efficiency estimates of 18 MPG city and 24 MPG on the highway. The eAssist system adds just 100 pound of weight to the truck and does not negatively impact the payload or towing ratings. The electric motor provides 13 hp and 44 lb-ft of additional power.
The eAssist Hybrid is only available on a loaded GMC Sierra 1500 SLT model and starts around $51,000. However, you can also get this system in a Chevy Silverado LT. The low battery capacity does not qualify these trucks for government tax credits.
The other catch is that these trucks are only available in California and as 2WD models. Will GM extend the eAssist system for sale in other states or with 4×4 models? Can this system be upgraded with a bigger batter or other powertrain combinations?
Op/Ed Note: I think there is merit to making gas/electric or diesel/electric Hybrid pickup truck more prevalent. The technology has advanced to a level where this system can offer significant efficiency benefits.
Get all the details on the current 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 eAssist Hybrid here.