A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, which was the General’s first major push into the hybrid market. As it turns out, GM’s first hybrid vehicle actually came a little earlier: the 2004 Chevy Silverado Hybrid. Like its Tahoe cousin, the Silverado Hybrid was a bit of a head scratcher — but for some shoppers, it made a lot of sense.
First off, the Silverado Hybrid was much different from standard hybrids like the Prius or Chevy’s later Tahoe Hybrid. Instead of offering a traditional hybrid powertrain, like those of the Prius or Honda Insight, the Silverado Hybrid was a “mild hybrid.” The truck’s electric motor was located in the transmission flywheel housing, and it was only used to crank the engine, charge the battery and provide auxillary power. This electric motor was fed by four 12-volt automotive batteries, and it allowed the truck to cut the engine when it came to a stop. It also provided enough power to allow Chevy to put four 120-volt outlets on the truck, with two in the bed and two in the cab.
This may not sound like it made much difference, but it was actually pretty brilliant. The extra battery reserve allowed the truck to sit idle without the engine running for long periods of time. Considering the Silverado’s popularity in the construction industry — an industry where trucks often are left running for a while as drivers use the accessories — the Silverado Hybrid’s extra batteries helped save a lot of gas in certain applications. Furthermore, the four outlets were perfect for power tools like air compressors and saws, which require 120-volt outlets to run — especially in the early stages of construction projects, when power connections may be spotty.
Like many other General Motors electric projects (such as the S10 EV and the EV1), the hybrid pickup trucks didn’t enjoy a wide distribution, with only a few states receiving them. To add to their current rarity, GM bought back many of the trucks at a premium, with most owners receiving much more than their trucks were worth. If you want one today, good luck: There isn’t a single one listed on Autotrader across the country. Find a Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid for sale