Fuel prices may be continuing to climb, but trucks remain popular with American buyers. GMC builds only trucks, and it is one of GM’s most successful divisions, with sales up last year by 6.4 percent.
But to stay successful in the truck segment, GMC is introducing what it claims is the most fuel-efficient pickup truck on the market (excluding other GM models). The GMC Sierra Hybrid will go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year as a 2009 model, with the promise of 40 percent better fuel economy than a standard Sierra pickup in the city, and 25 percent better economy overall.
Exact fuel economy figures have not been released; however, based on current Sierra fuel economy, the city number should be around 22 mpg. This may not seem very impressive at first blush, but this is in a truck that has more than 300 horsepower and the capability to tow more than 6,000 pounds.
The Sierra Hybrid will use GM’s new dual-mode hybrid system which was just recently introduced into the company’s full-size SUVs. The combination of power and fuel-efficiency comes from the partnership of a 6.0-liter V8 and GM’s Electrically Variable Transmission (EVT) and a 300-volt nickel-metal hydride Energy Storage System (ESS). Sierra Hybrid can drive up to 30 mph on just electric power, and the V8 can operate in 4-cylinder mode when the load is light.
Available with 2WD or 4WD, Sierra Hybrid will be a crew cab and feature the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, a locking rear axle and a trailer-towing package as standard equipment.
Denali XT Concept
GMC also took the wraps off what could easily be the hybrid pickup truck of the future. The Denali XT Hybrid Concept is a sleek but muscular design that features a useful cargo bed as well as spacious passenger areas.
Built on a unibody platform rather than a typical pickup's body-on-frame construction, the Denali XT is lighter and designed to provide great driving dynamics. The interior is quite stylish, and not so futuristic to be unattainable for a production vehicle.
Similar to the Chevrolet Avalanche, the Denali XT features a Midgate that allows the cargo area to extend into the passenger compartment for greater flexibility when hauling cargo.
“Like all GMCs, the Denali XT is functional and capable, but it blends those traits with a more efficient, sporty driving experience,” said Jim Bunnell, GMC general manager. “It is a vehicle that exemplifies GMC’s engineering excellence, as well as GM’s commitment to hybrid and advanced technologies.”
Denali XT uses the dual-mode hybrid system, but for the first time the system is set up with an E85-capable engine. The 4.9-liter version of GM’s small-block V8 features fuel-saving technologies such as direct-injection and Active Fuel Management.
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