GM Launching a Pickup Hybrid. Again

There’s a new hybrid pickup coming to town, from GMC.

GMC launched a mild-hybrid Sierra 1500 in California in 2016. The company has delivered more than 500 of them, and is now ready to move the eAssist package nationwide.

“(It) was well-received, so the decision was made to expand nationally based on that performance,” GMC spokesperson Kelly Wysocki told The Car Connection via email.

The $1,125 eAssist package adds a 0.45 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and a 15 kilowatt electric motor. The battery was tucked under the center console, with the motor going under the hood. The package was only available on Sierra 1500 SLT trim, in rear or four-wheel drive.

The very mild hybrid system allows for more use of the engine start-stop function. It smooths out that feature, and recovers energy under braking to recharge the battery.

The eAssist motor can boost the engine by up to 13 horsepower and 44 pounds-feet of torque. While that extra power can boost acceleration, it can also allow the active fuel management system to run in four-cylinder mode more of the time. That helps save fuel.

The eAssist package also includes a soft tonneau cover and automatic grille shutters, both of which improve aerodynamics and save more fuel. GMC said that it improves aerodynamics by 6 percent.

With an EPA rating of 18 miles per gallon city and 24 highway, the eAssist package raises the numbers by 2 mpg city, 2 highway, and 2 combined over a non eAssist Sierra.

The Car Connection reports that the GMC package will become available in all 50 states this year. It will be available on Chevrolet Silverado as well.

This isn’t the first hybrid truck from the General. Or even the second. In 2004, GM launched a micro-hybrid using an electric motor in the transmission to start the engine and charge the battery. It had stop-start and was a 42 volt system. The system was sold until 2007 and could let the truck supply 120 volt power for up to 32 hours on a tank of gas, used as a mobile generator.

In 2009, GM released a two-mode hybrid system that used a 6.0L V8, two electric motors, and a 300 volt battery mounted under the rear seat. That hybrid experiment boosted fuel economy by 6 mpg city and 3 highway (to 20/22). That model boosted the price of the truck by about $5,100 and was dropped from the lineup after 2013.

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