Think battery power and regenerative braking are only for granola-eating hippies? Think again. GM was kind enough to give us a little time with their new-for-2009 (read: available in the first half of next year) Silverado hybrid. And we tried something you can’t do with a Prius: We tooled around town with three people onboard — and a 20′ SeaRay boat out back.
But is this an option for which you’ll ante up a couple grand next year? Read on past the jump for our hands-on experiences and video footage.
Like all hybrids, the Silverado recovers energy during braking and coasting, storing it in a 300V bank of NiMH batteries located under the rear seat. Instead of idling when you stop at a light, the truck shuts down the engine, powering accessories like the a/c compressor and power steering with electric motors.
As you accelerate from a stop, the Silverado starts out on battery alone, delivering power via two electric motors directly attached to the transmission. When the load is too much for the motors, GM’s electronics automatically start the engine and feed in gas power through planetary gear sets. GM calls this “hybrid mode.” If you mash the right pedal even harder, the truck enters “engine mode” and powers the wheels totally with the gas engine under the hood.
GM calls the Silverado a “two-mode” hybrid because they optimize each of its two electric motors for separate purposes: one for stop-and-go city use and the other for supplementing engine power at highway speeds.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.