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The First Hybrid Pickup

In 2004, Chevy introduced the Silverado Hybrid, the first gas-electric hybrid pickup truck.  The new hybrid truck was a mild hybrid, meaning that the electric power wasn’t used in tandem with the 5.3L V8 gas engine.  Instead, the electric motor was housed inside the transmission and used a more robust version of a starter motor.  When the truck was stopped, the gas engine would turn off. The electric motor would start the gas engine back up when the driver started to pull away.  The electric motor also ran the power steering and other accessories during the time the gas engine was off.  Since pickup trucks get particularly bad gas mileage in stop and go traffic, this system gave the Silverado Hybrid a noticeable boost in fuel economy.  It brought city mileage per gallon almost in line with highway mpg at about 21. 

The Silverado Hybrid could also be utilized as an electric generator, using the electric motor to generate power from the gas engine.  The truck had four electric outlets in the bed and rear seat.  Chevy said the truck could produce electricity this way for 32 hours on one fuel tank. 

At first, the Silverado Hybrid was only available to fleets. Then it was available to buyers in a select few states, including California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.  In 2006, the Silverado Hybrid went for sale nationwide.   It was only available as a crew cab with a short bed, but it was available with four-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.  In 2008, General Motors introduced a new truck platform, but did not introduce a hybrid version until the following year. 

The Second Generation Silverado Hybrid

Chevy introduced the second generation of the Silverado Hybrid in 2009.  The new version had a drivetrain more similar to other hybrid vehicles.  It could run on electric power alone for up to a mile at 25 miles per hour.  The electric motor could also run along with the gas engine to add about 45 horsepower to the 332 hp already produced by the second generation’s 6L V8. 

The truck was also well outfitted inside and out with climate control, alloy wheels, and satellite radio standard.  Heated mirrors, a rearview camera, and leather seats were optional. 

As time went on, gas engines became more efficient, and some non-hybrid trucks began to catch up with the Silverado Hybrid in terms of fuel efficiency.  Sales of GM’s hybrid trucks (including the Sierra, Tahoe, Yukon, and Escalade), already low, dropped from 8,797 units in 2009 to 3,114 in 2011.   When Chevy introduced the next generation of the Silverado in 2014, no hybrid version was offered.  

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