General Motors is currently in the midst of launching its hybrid full-size pickup trucks and our man Jeremy is in San Antonio this week to try them out. One thing about the auto industry is that as soon as you get one product out the door, you're already working on the next generation. Such is the case with GM's two-mode hybrids which are due for a second generation in about 4 years. Mike Levine over at PickupTrucks.com has been talking to GM about where they are going for the next generation models. While the trucks launching right now have pretty decent towing power at 6,100 lbs for the RWD version (5,900 for the 4WD), big truck buyers want more.
GM's truck vehicle line executive, Gary White, told Mike that the next-gen models would have 50 percent better towing power in addition to greater efficiency. Perhaps more interesting is where GM is going with the hybrid architecture itself. While a next generation two-mode system will definitely be developed, White told Levine that something like the Volt's Voltec (formerly E-flex) system is on the table for the trucks.
The trucks certainly have room between the frame rails for plenty of batteries, and electric motors that provide enough torque for 9,000 lbs of towing capacity are pretty straightforward. Such a system would also eliminate the limiting factor with the current two-mode, which is the planetary gear-sets. However, a truck would need a very large range extender to maintain that towing capacity beyond the plug-in battery range when the vehicle gets into charge sustaining mode. It's certainly an interesting idea. We'll be watching to see what happens.