From Autoweek.com: Link, for reference.
GM ready to flick the switch on hybrid Silverado truck
By RICHARD TRUETT | Automotive News
SEATTLE - When the lights went out in August during the great power failure of 2003, Tom Stephens looked around GM Powertrain headquarters for the keys to a prototype of a Chevrolet hybrid pickup.
Stephens, General Motors' global powertrain chief, knew he could save the contents of his freezer and keep at least part of his house lighted with the truck.
Another executive at the Ypsilanti, Mich., operation had beat Stephens to it, so Stephens joined millions throughout Michigan, Ohio, New York and parts of Canada who cleaned out refrigerators and freezers.
The next time the power goes out, owners of GM's first mainstream hybrid vehicle could have an easier time of it.
GM is about seven weeks away from launching the gasoline-electric version of the Chevrolet Silverado. Under the hood is a V8 mated to an electric starter-alternator. The vehicle can function as a mobile generator, with two 120-volt outlets in the bed.
The first 500 trucks will go to corporate and government fleets. Consumers will be able to buy them early next spring.
The hybrid pickup is an important vehicle for GM and Detroit. The Big 3 trail Toyota and Honda in bringing hybrid powertrains to market.
GM is following the rollout of the Silverado hybrid with 235 diesel-electric powertrains for city buses in the Seattle area. The buses enter service next summer.
Unlike the electric motor in the Toyota Prius, the motor in the hybrid Silverado can't propel the truck on its own. The Silverado's electric motor, like the one in the Honda Civic Hybrid, provides a slight boost during hard acceleration at low speeds and smoothes out the gasoline engine's torque delivery to the automatic transmission, Stephens says.
The hybrid powertrain delivers a fuel economy increase of 10 percent to 15 percent, which pushes mileage to about 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Because trucks are heavier and generally have poor aerodynamics, the gain from a hybrid powertrain is less than a similar switch in a car.
Stephens says the truck's engine could be outfitted with cylinder deactivation technology, which shuts down unneeded cylinders when the truck reaches cruising speed on the highway. That move would increase fuel economy another 6 percent to 8 percent, he says.
Although the Silverado is one of GM's most profitable vehicle lines, the automaker likely won't turn a profit on the hybrid version soon.
"The hardware we have to put on to this is expensive and doesn't really earn its way," Stephens says. "You have to get to a much greater volume on probably a second- or third-generation hardware to be able to pay for it."
GM won't discuss the cost of the hybrid technology.
Dan Benjamin, an analyst with Allied Business Intelligence, a research firm in Oyster Bay, N.Y., that covers the wireless, electronics, energy and automotive sectors, estimates that GM will charge consumers $2,500 to $3,000 for the hybrid option. Benjamin says the most expensive parts of the system are the electric devices that convert electricity generated by the vehicle to household current for appliances.
Stephens says the hybrid powertrain could be installed easily in any GM vehicle that uses the GMT800 platform, such as the GMC Yukon or Chevrolet Suburban.
J.D. Power and Associates estimates that sales of hybrid vehicles could reach 350,000 units a year in 2008, up from an estimated 40,000 units in 2003. That's a slower growth rate than the consulting firm originally forecast. High prices, the late arrival of the Ford Escape HEV and other factors are the reason for the lower sales estimate