GM takes a step toward hybrid trucks with 2016 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra eAssist

2016 GMC Sierra 1500 eAssist
Amid rumors that rival Ford is planning a hybrid version of its F-150 pickup truck, General Motors is adding its eAssist mild-hybrid system to the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. That makes them the only hybrid pickups currently on sale, but GM is doing the minimum amount of work to claim that distinction.

Unlike the full hybrid system in, say, a Toyota Prius or GM’s own Chevy Malibu Hybrid, mild-hybrid systems generally can’t propel a vehicle on electricity alone. Instead, they take some of the load off the internal-combustion powertrain with supplementary electric power. That means smaller efficiency gains, but also lower costs and less engineering work compared to full hybrids.

Previously used on a handful of sedans, the eAssist should boost the Chevy and GMC trucks’  city fuel economy by about 13 percent, GM says. Hybrid hardware includes a single electric motor and 0.45-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which work in concert with a 5.3-liter V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission that carry over from non-hybrid Silverado and Sierra models, with rear-wheel drive. This is the second time GM has offered hybrid powertrains on its full-size trucks; a previous generation launched in 2009 never sold particularly well.

GM says it cribbed some elements from other electrified models, including battery cells from the Malibu Hybrid and control software from the recently-redesigned Chevy Volt. The eAssist system adds 100 pounds, but also provides an extra 13 horsepower and 44 pound-feet of torque.

Official EPA numbers aren’t in yet, but GM expects both trucks to get 20 mpg combined (18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway). That’s a 2 mpg improvement across the board compared to non-hybrid models. That may not seem like a lot, but because the Silverado and Sierra don’t have particularly high gas mileage to begin with, it should work out to a significant amount of fuel savings.

Not that many drivers will have a chance to find out. GM only plans to build 500 Silverado and 200 Sierra eAssist trucks for the 2016 model year. These will only be sold in California, but GM may make the hybrid models more widely available for 2017 if Golden State customers respond positively. GM’s limited plans still leave the door open for Ford to make a bigger impact, assuming its hybrid F-150 comes to market on a larger scale.

Product Review

The last American midsize plug-in hybrid is being squeezed out of existence

The 2019 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid can’t catch a break. Ford is planning to discontinue production next year, but looming tariffs could spell doom for an otherwise comfortable and very economically sensible sedan.
Cars

Forget turrets. Hummer could fight its next war in the electric SUV segment

General Motors is considering resurrecting the Hummer brand it axed in 2010 to make electric off-roaders. The plan hasn't been approved yet, and it risks alienating some die-hard Hummer fans, but it makes sense on several levels.
Cars

Will Detroit be the ultimate test for Argo A.I.’s self-driving Ford?

Ford-backed Argo A.I. revealed its third-generation autonomous prototype in Detroit. Based on the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the car is fitted with technology that sees better and further, thinks faster, and is more comfortable to ride in.
Cars

Ford recalls 1.3 million Explorer and F-150 vehicles over safety issues

Ford announced multiple safety recalls on Wednesday, June 12, the largest of which affects 1.2 million Explorer SUVs over an issue with the suspension that has the potential to affect steering control.
Outdoors

The best smart helmets are full of cool tech, and totally worth the messy hair

Helmets might be a haircut's worst nightmare, but they're constantly evolving, and have undergone a 21st-century makeover. No matter your sport, here are the best smart helmets currently on the market.
Cars

Kia draws inspiration from Greek mythology to create a crossover for millennials

Kia will expand its global portfolio of crossovers and SUVs when it unveils a model named Seltos on June 20, 2019. Developed for milennials, the Seltos is a small, high-tech model named after the son of Hercules.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Don’t let the SUV bodies fool you, BMW’s X3 M and X4 M are bona fide M cars

BMW is launching the first M versions of its X3 and X4. The 2020 X3 M and X4 M Competition pack a new 503-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six and BMW’s usual array of performance tech.
Cars

After years of Le Mans misfortune, Toyota becomes impossible to beat

Toyota scored a one-two finish at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans, its second win a row at the legendary French race. Toyota is the first Japanese automaker to win Le Mans twice, but its wins came without any real competition.
Cars

Uber drivers reportedly triggering higher fares through Surge Club

Uber drivers are reportedly participating in a so-called Surge Club to artificially trigger higher fares. Many drivers said that they do not want to join the shady practice, but they are forced to do so due to pay cuts.
Cars

Intel hates that your car is dumber than your phone. Here’s how they’ll fix it

Motorists are often underwhelmed and/or frustrated with their car's native infotainment system, so millions of them rely on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Intel is helping Google and Volvo change that by bringing phone-like tech to the…
Cars

Fisker wants to make sure Tesla’s Model Y isn’t in a class of one when it lands

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Cars

Could a high-performance Nissan Leaf steal the mighty GT-R’s lunch money?

Nissan developed the electric Leaf with range and practicality in mind, but the hatchback could lend its hardware to a high-performance flagship. One of Nissan's chief executives announced a four-motor, 850-hp model could arrive during the…
Cars

This futuristic driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas

Pizza delivery using driverless pods is about to become a thing. Domino's has partnered with autonomous-tech specialist Nuro to use the futuristic pods for a trial delivery service starting later this year.