No, you aren’t experiencing dj vu. The vehicle you see right here is the version of the two-mode hybrid that debuted at last January’s Detroit auto show. It marks the first time (besides the Tahoe, of course) that anyone has taken a true, “two-mode” hybrid system and applied it to a full-size truck. In this truck, the hybrid setup–which GM co-developed with BMW and DaimlerChrysler–combines an electric motor/generator and a Vortec V-8 OHV engine to produce approximately 300 hp. It’s similar to the Toyota approach, with two planetary gear seats and two electric motors mated to a gasoline engine.
Unlike GM’s so-called “mild” hybrids–the Saturn Vue Green Line, for example–the Yukon/Tahoe hybrids will be able to run using electric power only, engine power only, or a combination of the two at low speeds and light loads. The technology has worldwide applications, and GM is crowing that it will provide amazing gas mileage when combined with diesel engines in Europe. In the U.S., the same gasoline/electric powertrain from the Tahoe will also be fitted to the Escalade. On the highway, full eight-cylinder engine power is added to the electric motors for passing, climbing steep grades, and towing.
GM claims 25 percent better fuel economy compared to its conventional full-size SUVs, a savings aided by such features as a 0.4-inch lower ride height, low rolling resistance tires, a streamlined hood leading edge, and a liftgate and hood made of aluminum. The trucks should go on sale late in 2007 as 2008 models.