Citing several inside sources – but not yet confirmed by General Motors – it is being reported that GM will discontinue development of most of its next-generation hybrid light trucks.
The vehicles – namely the Chevrolet Tahoe, Silverado, and GMC Yukon and Sierra employing the company’s fairly effective but pricey Two-Mode hybrid system – are among those GM Inside News says are believed to be on the chopping block.
In most applications the hybrid system offers around an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city, 23 mpg highway compared to maybe 15 mpg or less city, and 22 mpg or less highway for GM’s conventional V8 – depending on whether 2WD or 4WD, and regular fuel or E85.
Contrast the hybrid’s incremental gains to also-GM-based VIA Motors series hybrid trucks now being evaluated by fleets. These offer around 100 MPGe and among other acknowledgments were well received in a video review by Jay Leno.
The Two-Mode hybrid Cadillac Escalade might be carried forward, sources told GMI, due to the prestige value that high-profile celebrities bestow on GM when they buy the big greenish Cadillac-badged trucks.
But even if this is so, GM’s current hybrid trucks and SUVs have not sold well. Total annual sales in 2011, for example, are: Silverado, 1,001 units; Escalade, 819 units; Yukon, 598 units; Tahoe, 519 units, Sierra, 164 units.
Also reported is that GM’s hybrid truck program has seen cost overruns and management does not feel the vehicles are presently worth continued investment.
Before this latest wet blanket was thrown on the program, GMI noted the original plan to revise GM’s hybrid light-duty vehicles called for an updated version of the current Two-Mode system. Also pending were smaller displacement V8 engines, upgrading the battery storage to a more modern lithium-ion pack and revised electric motors. Speculation also had it that GM would employ more than two modes, including possible plug-in functionality.
General Motors has not officially confirmed the above report said to have been the result of speaking to several sources with knowledge of the company’s production plans.