GMC's version of Chevy's hybrid pickup
What it Is
2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid Preview – 2008 Chicago Auto Show: As goes Chevrolet’s full-sized pickups, so go GMC’s. When Chevy introduced the Silverado hybrid in Los Angeles last year, we set our stopwatches for when the GMC Sierra version would show up. Well, the timer just went off, as GM’s truck-only division pulled the wraps off its own hybrid pickup truck. Due to go on sale in the last quarter of 2008 as a 2009 model truck, it promises 40 percent better city fuel economy, 25 percent better overall, but without a serious compromise on towing or hauling capacity.Why it Matters
Providing incremental fuel economy gains in passenger cars is an admirable achievement, but as many experts have argued, addressing the consumption of larger, more powerful vehicles could have a greater impact on gas consumption and emissions. That’s the thinking behind the development of the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid, a full-size work truck promising a 40-percent improvement in fuel economy, while still boasting a 6,100-lb. tow capacity and rugged four-wheel-drive capability. At the end of the day, the Sierra Hybrid’s importance lies in the fact that not everyone can drive a Prius.
What’s Under the Hood
At the heart of the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid is a 6.0-liter V-8 engine mated to GM’s EVT, or electrically variable transmission. The engine is good for 332 horses and 367 lb.-ft. of torque, and features GM’s Active Fuel Management technology. However, the tranny is responsible for most of the hybrid work, and features a variable mode for low-speed and low-load situations, while a fixed gearset comes into play for high-speed and high-load situations. GM claims the system, which also incorporates regenerative braking and electric steering, allows the Sierra to travel up to 30 mph on electricity alone, and improves fuel economy by up to 40 percent.
What it Looks Like
With the exception of the Volt Concept, GM’s hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles look much like their gas-only counterparts. For its part, the 2009 Sierra Hybrid carries on with that theme. Available as a 2WD or 4WD model in Crew Cab guise only, GMC’s gas/electric full-size pickup features a revised front fascia and tonneau cover for improved aerodynamics; low-rolling resistance tires have also been added to improve fuel economy. The body of the truck gets a few markings for distinction, and the interior features the “pure pickup truck” design used for GMC’s work trucks.
What GMC Says
GM is anxious to give even its big trucks a green halo, as GMC general manager Jim Bunnell explains: “The Sierra Hybrid represents GMC’s commitment to engineering excellence, delivering a fully functional truck that offers a significant improvement in fuel economy. Sierra Hybrid will deliver fuel economy that is expected to be the best in the full-size pickup segment, exceeding the current mileage leader – the non-hybrid Sierra.”
What We Think
The car market doesn’t always make a lot of sense. Don’t believe us? Consider the number of large, V-8 powered vehicles flooding local lots just as gas prices hit new highs, and the push for corn-based fuel while prolonged drought conditions tax irrigation sources. However, there are moments of clarity, including the idea to create a hybrid version of a gas-guzzling work truck. If it’s as capable as GMC claims, the Sierra Hybrid could provide a cost savings for general contractors everywhere, while also addressing the issues of cleaner emissions and dependence on oil.
Photo credit: GMC