What it Is
2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Preview – 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: For a boxer it might a be hammering bruised kidney and for a Jenny Craig client it might be avoiding buttered dinner rolls. The point is to focus on an area that will provide the greatest impact, and that’s just what Chevrolet will do when it launches the 2009 Silverado Hybrid in late 2008. With a reported 40-percent improvement in fuel economy while still providing plentiful V-8 power and a 6,100-lb. towing capacity, Chevy’s full-size pickup could potentially provide an impact equivalent to all of GM’s current hybrid passenger cars combined.
By Thom Blackett
Photo Credit: Thom Blackett
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 Chevrolet Silverado 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 Silverado 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 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid is a 6.0-liter V-8 engine mated to 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 Silverado to travel up to 30 mph on electricity 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 Silverado Hybrid carries on with that theme. Available as a 2WD or 4WD model in Crew Cab guise only, Chevy’s gas/electric full-size pickup features a revised front fascia and tonneau cover for improved aerodynamic; 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 Chevy’s true work trucks.
What Chevrolet Says
Chevy’s General Manager, Ed Peper, says,“The Silverado Hybrid is the newest example of Chevy’s heritage of truck innovation, which stretches back 90 years, and exemplifies Chevrolet’s commitment to fuel solutions. Silverado Hybrid will deliver fuel economy comparable to many small and midsize trucks that are equipped with four- or six-cylinder engines – all while delivering the capability customers expect of Chevy full-size trucks. Silverado has one of the broadest and deepest lineups of models, configurations and capabilities. The Silverado Hybrid adds to the breadth and depth of offerings, while carrying the core elements that make Silverado one of the most well-equipped and safest trucks in the market.”
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 heights, 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 Chevy claims, the Silverado Hybrid could provide a cost savings for general contractors everywhere, while also addressing the issues of cleaner emissions and dependence on oil.