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It’s About Time!: Hybrid Trucks
With the increasing concern about environmental issues such as pollution and global warming, as well as the unbelievable rise in the price of gasoline, it is no wonder that hybrid vehicles are gaining popularity. Hybrid cars have been relatively common for years, with hybrid Sport Utility Vehicles in close competition, but what about hybrid trucks? We don't see those too often. Automotive manufacturing giant General Motors, however, believes that will change.
In 2005, GM introduced hybrid versions of the Chevy Silverado and the GMC Sierra in Florida, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Alaska. In 2006 the company made the vehicles available nationwide. These hybrid pickup trucks have 5.3 liter V-8 engines which have exactly the same amount of power and torque as there non-hybrid counterparts (295 horsepower, 325 pound/feet of torque). They can carry the same size loads, tow the same weights, and accelerate to the same degree that regular non-hybrid GM pickup trucks can. And they do it all while providing the most efficient gas mileage of any full-sized pickup on the market—about 20 miles per gallon on the highway. These hybrid trucks also feature a 2400 watt generator that can be used to power electrical devices, making them ideal for contractors or construction workers.
When compared to the Toyota Prius, a small hybrid car that gets 50 miles per gallon, 20 mpg might not sound like much. It is in fact only about a 10 percent difference from the fuel consumption of regular non-hybrid GM trucks. This is because the Prius is what is known as a “full hybrid,” which means that its internal combustion engine can shut off completely when the car is idle or driving at low speeds, relying solely on battery power and drastically improving fuel efficiency. This type of fuel savings is great, but it requires a significant compromise of power, which is something that the general pickup truck owner simply will not stand for.
Many truck owners use their vehicles for work related purposes, such as hauling heavy loads, and it is essential that a hybrid pickup truck be able to do this. If automotive manufacturers sacrifice power to gain fuel economy in hybrid trucks, their customers will disappear. Acutely aware of this, General Motors has decided that a little improvement is better than none at all.
Hybrid Cars and Trucks and the Environment
With fossil fuel emissions at levels of billions of tons per year and global warming becoming increasingly obvious, it is clear that sooner or later something must be done. For decades, scientists and researchers have tried to find alternative fuel sources, but there simply was nothing as convenient as the old standby—oil. The oil infrastructure is so vast and developed that is has become impossible to think of cars without thinking of gasoline, and many Americans are loath to change. But they must. Every major city in the country—New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, and most notably Las Angeles—is plagued by pollution. The cities are shrouded by smog, there are pollution warnings on weather reports, and at times it is impossible even to take a deep breath without noticing that something is wrong with the air. This is not a world that most of us want to live in. But if more people are willing to take the plunge and buy a hybrid car or truck, the effects over time will be enormous. A hybrid truck might be more expensive initially, but the fuel savings will soon make it worthwhile. And as hybrid technology improves, the cost of these vehicles will no doubt be reduced, making the future a lot brighter, and a lot less smoggy, for the next generation of Earthlings.
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