General Motors Corp. announced Jan. 6 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that it will test the market with at least seven gasoline-electric powered vehicles by 2007. The only mass-produced hybrids currently available in the U.S. are the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids. GM's range of gas-and-electric-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs will improve fuel economy by 15 to 50 percent, according to Reuters.
The first hybrids from GM will be versions of its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, set to arrive later this year. They will improve fuel efficiency by 10 to 12 percent. In 2005, GM will introduce its most advanced hybrid offering – the Saturn Vue sport/utility – which will get nearly 50 percent better fuel economy than the current version. A hybrid Chevrolet Equinox compact sport/utility vehicle will be offered in 2006, which will get 15 percent better fuel economy. Three hybrids will come out in 2007 – the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size sport/utility vehicles and the Chevrolet Malibu mid-size sedan. All three will increase fuel economy by 15 to 20 percent.
Hybrid technology adds about $1,000 to $5,000 to the cost of a vehicle, depending on the technology, Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and planning, told Reuters. But hybrids would be more attractive if the government added tax incentives to offset the additional costs. GM plans to test the market and, if the demand is high, maybe produce a million or more hybrids a year by 2007.