General Motors announced on March 15 that it had begun building the first of 500 hybrid pickups at its Fort Wayne, Ind., plant. The trucks are built on the standard GMT 800 platform and will be marketed as the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Truck and GMC Sierra Hybrid Truck.

At the same time, General Motors of Canada announced that the first hybrid trucks in the industry have been sold to customers across that country. Michael Grimaldi, president of General Motors of Canada said, "The introduction of the industry's first hybrid trucks is the next phase in our strategy of focusing on the highest fuel consuming vehicles first.”

The trucks are considered mild hybrids because the integrated starter-generator motor in the GM trucks does not propel the vehicle on its own. Instead, it gives a boost to the gasoline engine on hard acceleration and smoothes the gasoline engine's torque delivery to the automatic transmission.

GM says the hybrid powertrain improves fuel economy by 10 to 15 percent. The hybrid option is available only in half-ton Crew Cab models.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials