GM expanding eAssist mild hybrid system to pickups

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. will produce a limited number of 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups with its eAssist mild-hybrid system.

The technology is expected to provide up to 13 percent better fuel economy in city driving, and delivers an additional 13 horsepower and 44 pound-feet of torque from the electric motor.

The Detroit automaker says it will produce about 500 Silverados and 200 Sierras with the technology for this model year, and “adjust production” based on customer feedback for 2017 models. The vehicles will initially only be offered in California. A GM spokeswoman said it’s too early to tell if the company will expand availability to outside of California.

“Its advantages are delivered in a compromise-free package that enables real-world fuel savings with premium content that provides a very high level of refinement, comfort and connectivity,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of GMC Sales and Marketing.

The eAssist system pairs a compact lithium-ion battery pack with the company’s 5.3-liter EcoTech V-8 and eight-speed automatic transmission. It will improve fuel economy by 2 mpg across the board, with EPA-estimated 18 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway. The combined rating is 20 mpg, up from 18 mpg.

The electric motor, GM says, also enables the V-8 engine’s “Active Fuel Management system” to operate in four-cylinder mode for longer periods, resulting in additional fuel economy benefits.

“For customers and small-business owners who use their trucks for more urban driving, the addition of eAssist can further reduce their fuel costs without sacrificing the utility they expect in a full-size truck,” said Sandor Piszar, marketing director for Chevrolet Trucks, in a statement.

GM has traditionally used the eAssist system on cars since it debuted on the 2012 Buick LaCrosse.

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