There's considerable anticipation in the air for the arrival of GM's two-mode hybrid system in the company's fullsize SUV lineup. Starting this week, workers at GM's Arlington, Texas, assembly line will practice building the unique powertrain that includes a V8 engine and electric motor located inside the transmission. GM is the first automaker to try a fullsize SUV hybrid. It'll be offered in the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. GM officials say the two-mode will improve mileage up to 25 percent, giving the big trucks a rating of around 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

Speculation is rampant on the impact the hybrid will have on SUV sales, considering the political climate and price of gasoline. Hybrids still make up only one percent of all vehicle sales while fullsize SUVs command around five or six percent. That trend equates to about 1,200 two-mode hybrids out of the Arlington plant. Next year, the two-mode will be offered in GM's fullsize pickups.

Right now GM hasn't released any pricing details. This unique system is likely to cost upwards of $5,000 over a standard SUV.

[Source: Terry Box / Dallas Morning News (subscription required)]

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