General Motors is once again dipping its toes into the cool waters that are the hybrid pickup market. In 2016, a “select number” of Silverados and Sierras (700 in total, to be exact) will be equipped with a mild hybrid electrical system, meaning the trucks will be fitted with a single electric motor which is not capable of propelling a truck by itself. Instead, it will provide a little extra support when it counts… during acceleration. The electric motor is rated at 13 hp and 44 lb-ft of torque and will allow the 5.3L V8 to spend more time enjoying cylinder deactivation mode. GM calls the mild-hybrid system “eAssist”. The system will add 100 pounds of weight to the trucks but will not hurt their towing capability.
What really matters is the economics of the motor. Chevy will charge $500 for it and GMC has yet to announce pricing. According to Chevy, the Silverado 1500 with eAssist will get a bump of 2 mpg, to 18/24/20 (city/highway/combined), which is a 13% improvement over trucks without the system. Some quick number crunching indicates a person who drives their truck 12,000 miles per year at $2 per gallon (we have to make some assumptions here) will see a savings of about $133 per year. If gas prices increase or if more miles are put on the truck, the numbers could start to make sense. But don’t get too excited just yet… the trucks equipped with eAssist will only come with 2WD and the 5.3L, 8-speed powertrain. Oh, and they will only be available in California. GM promises it will review the success of the eAssist-equipped trucks and adjust its production numbers for 2017.