GM hybrid pickups enter second year of limited release

Nearly a year after GM announced that its hybrid pickups would be available in Southern California, the automaker reported recently that dealers in the region would once again be selling the eAssist trucks this spring.

“For the 2016 model year, 500 eAssist Silverados were offered for the California market and sold quickly,” said Rita Kass-Shamoun, assistant manager of GM’s fleet, dealer and customer care communications.

“These vehicles have been sold exclusively through California dealers and are not available in other parts of the country. We are continuing for the 2017 model year in California and evaluating other markets.”

GM reports that eAssist’s lithium-battery based technology, borrowed from the Chevrolet Volt and Malibu Hybrid, achieves up to 13 percent greater city fuel economy.

The eAssist powertrain is a light electrification system leveraging GM’s latest technologies. It builds on the advanced technologies of the 5.3L V8 engine, including direct injection, variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation), complementing them with a compact lithium-ion battery pack to enhance efficiency.

Additional fuel savings are achieved by turning off the engine when stopped at a stop light or heavy traffic and restarting the engine when the driver lifts his or her foot from the brake pedal.

The on-board electric motor provides a power boost during acceleration and passing, while enabling the engine to operate in four-cylinder mode for longer periods, for additional fuel savings.

By using the on-board electric motor as a generator, the energy recovered while braking is converted to electricity to recharge the onboard battery system.

A 6-percent improvement in aerodynamics contributes to fuel economy due to a standard soft tonneau cover and automatic grille shutters, which can close at speeds over 30 mph in order to further reduce drag and fuel consumption.

The eAssist system includes a 24-cell, air-cooled 0.45 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, located under the center console or front bench seat. It adds only about 100 pounds to the vehicle’s curb weight.

A compact induction motor, located on the accessory drive, provides 15 kW of peak regenerative capability, thanks to advanced software controls based on the Chevy Volt. It performs like an electric torque booster, providing up to 44 foot pounds and up to 13 horsepower of additional boost in high load situations. There’s also a liquid-cooled power inverter module located under the hood.