September 2007 Looking Ahead

More specifications emerged for GM’s two-mode hybrid SUVs, which are scheduled to arrive in dealerships this December. Automotive News reported that fuel economy for the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Tahoe will be higher than previously expected, with two-wheel-drive versions attaining 21 MPG in city driving and 22 MPG on the highway. While still low in comparison to a Prius, the fuel economy of GM’s two-mode hybrids is respectable for a large, 5300-pound vehicle. In the city, the full-sized hybrid SUVs get about the same mileage as a small family sedan like the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, or Volkswagen Passat. On the highway, GM’s two-mode SUVs are a bit thirstier, using slightly less fuel than their non-hybrid counterparts, but far more than the average family sedan.

Overall, GM seems to have done to the Tahoe and Yukon what Toyota did to the Camry. Fuel economy of the hybrid versions is 10% higher on the highway, and about 50% better in the city. But we’ll have to wait and see if GM experiences the same sales success as Toyota has. Currently, one of every 10 Camrys sold in the US is a hybrid. If GM can achieve the same take rate, it will mean that roughly 20,000 households put a GM hybrid SUV in their garages next year, an exciting prospect for those who are eager to see hybrid technology become more popular.