General Motors unveiled its new hybrid pickups and SUVs at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show. Admittedly a late-comer to the hybrid game, GM is proving it's getting serious with its hybrid offerings. Even the Europeans, which for years have been insistent that diesel is the wave of the future and hybrids are nothing more than a passing fad, are coming to grips with the market realities that are demanding hybrids.
But in about two years, an interesting scenario will start to play out in Chevrolet and GMC showrooms across the country. Hybrid and light-duty diesel models will be sold side-by-side. Off-the record, even one GM executive hinted that the company was hedging its bets by planning to offer both, uncertain as to what direction the market will go when offered the two choices.
Let's look at what we do know, and throw in a little speculation for good measure. The Tahoe Hybrid is going for around $50k. Figure the Silverado will be priced a little below that, let's figure $44k. The Silverado Hybrid produces around 332 horsepower and 367 lb./ft. of torque, plus whatever additional power is added by the electric motors. Because of some aero-aiding styling and engineering tweaks, towing capacity took a hit, down to around 6,000 lbs., as opposed to up to 10,500 with a properly-equipped conventional half-ton. Mileage is highly respectable at around 20/20.
When the Duramax 4500 makes its debut, it's estimated to produce 310 horsepower and a robust 520 lb./ft. of torque. If it's like most diesels, it will be barely fazed by heavy loads, likely offering the full maximum half-ton towing capacity of 10,000 lbs. or higher. Okay, so it won't have the whisper-quiet operation of the hybrid, but those in the know have said the new "baby" Duramax will be quieter than any of the current 3/4 or 1-ton diesels on the market. As far as a price premium, figure $5,000-6,000 over a comparable conventional 5.3 or 6.0L, but likely right in the same ballpark as the hybrid. As far as fuel economy, figure on it meeting or beating the Hybrid, let's say 19/24 instead of the hybrid's 20/21, maybe even as high as 20/25.
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