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Telecom giant Verizon, in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint, is making a huge push to acquire more fuel efficient vehicles. The company recently announced that it has bought 576 Chevy Silverado Hybrid pickups, the first of which will be delivered in July, from Fairway Motors, a GM dealer located in Hazelton, PA.
The Silverado Hybrid employs a two mode hybrid system with an electric motor and 6.0-liter gasoline fueled V8, which allows it to run on electric power alone at speeds up to 30 mph and also uses a cylinder deactivation system on the V8 to boost fuel economy. EPA rated fuel economy is set at 21-mpg city and 22-mpg highway. Yet power, torque and payload capacity rival other trucks on the market, with the Vortech V8 generating 332-hp and 367 ft-lbs of torque, allowing the Silverado Hybrid to haul loads in excess of 6000 lbs. In a statement to the press, Brian Small, Fleet and Commercial Operations general manager at GM, stated “we knew the Silverado Hybrid was the perfect fit [for Verizon] because of its outstanding city and highway miles per gallon ratings.”
Once they join the Verizon fleet, the Silverados will be primarily used in urban areas, where potentially the savings of using a hybrid drivetrain can be realized the most. According to James Gowen, chief sustainability officer at Verizon Communications, “a major part of our sustainability strategy is to make smart use of lower carbon alternatives to power our fleet.”
In an effort to further reduce fuel consumption, the trucks will incorporate a lightweight bed insert, courtesy of Brand FX. These fiberglass inserts will house the required equipment for servicing Verizon systems, including ladders, wiring connectors and television set boxes.
Hot on the heels of announcing impressive payload and towing figures for its Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra Heavy-Duty trucks; General Motors has stated that it is seriously looking to re-enter the medium duty truck market. Last year, the General exited this segment, winding down production of its Chevrolet Kodiak and GMC Topkick class 5-7 trucks, after deals to sell the medium-duty business to Isuzu and Navistar International fell through.
However, in an about turn, it looks like the General might return to the segment. According to Joyce Mattman, Director of GM’s Commercial Vehicle operations, there are several different strategies that could be taken. One is to go after the class 5/6 market, in which the Kodiak and TopKick competed, but another is to go for the class 4/5 segment, the realm of 1-ton chassis cabs, which are popular with small delivery firms and contractors. “We’ve competed in class 4 before,” says Mattman. “Our C3500 HD was popular and the thing our customers liked about it, was that it had a light-duty pickup cab and they could get between houses and down alleys for deliveries and utility work, places where many traditional medium-duty trucks can’t.”
Given that Ford and Ram already compete in the 4/5 category with their F-450 and 4500 chassis cab rigs, a GM entry would seem a no-brainer, aided by the fact that such a truck could use much of the existing Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra HD hardware. In the meantime with a sizable void in the market, GM commercial dealers are doing what they can to survive, selling left-over Kodiak and TopKick vehicles to those customers who still want a medium-duty GM truck.
It won the North American truck of the year award and in the commercial sector, the Transit Connect has been generating a lot of interest over the last year. The Turkish built, small delivery van has been on sale in Europe since 2002, but was only introduced to our market last year. As Ford is retiring its fleet mainstay, the Crown Victoria sedan in 2011, many government agencies and taxi fleet operators are looking at a suitable replacement. With its small size, tight turning radius, significant interior capacity and decent fuel economy, the Transit Connect is seen as a logical alternative to the Vic taxi by some. Recently, the city of Boston announced that it will be adding these vehicles to its taxi fleets in the fall of this year, making it the first major American metropolis to do so.
According to Mark Cohen, Licensing Director for the Boston Police department that issues cab licenses, “we’ve been very impressed with the Transit Connect. The size, shape and configuration make it comfortable for the driver and passengers. It’s the closest thing to a purpose-built vehicle for taxi use that I’ve seen in 25 years.”
Besides space; durability, ease of maintenance and the ability to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) are all high priorities for taxi fleets. In addition to the Transit Connect’s 2.0-liter gas engine, the company will also be offering new pre prep conversions that allow the vehicle to run on CNG or LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas). Even without that, if the Transit Connect proves successful as a taxi, it is likely to boost the average fuel economy of taxi fleets by as much as 30 percent.
[Source: Ford Motor Company]