the best they can do

Oh, this is just too sad for words. The other day I noticed an ad for the new “GMC Sierra Hybrid Pickup”: I was surprised by the idea that US automakers were finally getting on the hybrid bandwagon. Turns out I shouldn’t have been.

Read on for the rant…

Toyota has had a working, useful hybrid vehicle for what, “7 years now”:, right? The demand for it is insatiable, and Toyota is taking home more awards and more money every year.

Honda has a whole line of hybrids, too, including a hybrid version of the popular Accord V-6 which gets 40% better fuel efficiency than the non-hybrid model (about 30mpg).

And what is GMC’s exciting response to this, years later? A V-8 “hybrid” pickup which is (as the site puts it) “up to 10% more fuel efficient” than the dismal 18mpg of the standard model. Wait, 10%? That’s… let’s see… 2mpg better. Two. And the tailpipe emissions aren’t improved at all. Why? Because the “electric motor isn’t used to move the vehicle at all”: Not even a little. It’s only used to keep things running when the vehicle is stopped or braking.

For this marvel of engineering, GMC adds $2500 to the cost. With the tiny mileage improvement, that only pays for itself at the pump after about 200,000 miles of city driving. For comparison, buying a brand new Prius and using it instead would pay for itself just as quickly. And that’s just sad.

6 thoughts on “the best they can do

  1. Yeek. That’s so not worth it. One of my anthro colleagues just got kind of a deal on a Prius that was used as the test drive car on the Toyota lot. Green With. Envy.

  2. Ooo. And the stupid thing is that people will buy such a truck and say, “Oh, see, I’m environmentally conscious, because it’s a Hybrid.” When it isn’t! It’s a conventional vehicle with a hybrid tumor! They really could do so much more.

  3. Indeed. I’m picturing our Governator shouting, “It’s naht ah tumah!”

    I forgot to mention that the ad was on top of a gas pump. They’re almost certainly implying that the “10% better” mileage is a major feature.

  4. Yeah, I saw that green washing BS at a trade show a few months ago. When I saw “hybrid” I thought great! A hybrid truck — finally! As I would actually be in the market for one of those . . . When I asked about the gas mileage, I was told 17 city and 18 highway or something horrendous. I must have looked disgusted as he said, well it’s a heavy truck you need a big engine to move it around, not like those little hybrids (that is bs as a Prius is somewhere around 3,000 lbs I believe). But then he was really quick to point out the plug in the back — so you can use the car as an on-site generator. Useful, occasionally, but not very “green.”

    ~d whos waiting, waiting for a *true* hybrid truck!

  5. Seriously! I thought of you (Deb) immediately when I first saw this “hybrid” truck. Trucks would actually be good candidates for hybridization, because they’re generally overpowered for city driving in order to have power available when hauling. A hybrid drivetrain would allow the gas-powered engine to produce less power in general by providing peak power from the electrical system. I think that’s called “integrated motor assist”:, but I Am Not An Automotive Engineer.

    If they really wanted to get radical, they could design a V-8 which acts like a 4-cylinder engine in city driving conditions. I think that’s how Honda can provide a “V-6″ Accord Hybrid which gets the mileage of a 3-cylinder motor… because it’s running on 3 cylinders most of the time. Again, IANAAE, but the folks at GM claim to be.

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