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Tech coverage of the 2005 North American International Auto Show – Miscellaneous

January 1, 2005

in All Articles,Cars and auto

There were certain things at the NAIAS I didn’t expect. And to be honest I’m not very impressed with two of them.

I’m of the opinion that economy and smaller-sized vehicles are very important. These make the roads safer, make our environment cleaner, and decrease fuel use. I understand there are certain needs for larger, less efficient vehicles, and for those justified needs I don’t have a problem.

With that said, let’s introduce two vehicles:

GMC Savanna Conversion Van

With 15/20 MPG and rear-wheel drive, I wouldn’t want to drive this around Michigan in the winter. I’d forgotten how huge conversion vans were until I saw this one.


This is a view from the trunk, looking over the rear seats and towards the front of the vehicle. That’s a 22″ plasma TV with DVD player you’re seeing near the top center.





There are plenty of perks, like wireless headsets for passengers and, of course, storage room.




Chevy Silverado Hybrid

This is the first ever gas-electric hybrid full-size pickup. It’s a vehicle with 295 HP, 4WD capability and similar towing and climbing capability as a non-hybrid Silverado. Sounds great until you read some of the small print: This vehicle gets 10% better fuel economy over the conventional gasoline pickup. It boosts city fuel economy by about 2MPG. (You could do the same in some cars by just turning off the air conditioning.)

If you’re someone who needs a pickup for towing, heavy lifting and such, what would you rather have: A hybrid which many more parts to potentially break, or a conventional engine? This isn’t just putting yourself outside of a comfort zone, it’s increasing the number of points of failure on a vehicle that you’re going to be working very hard. And remember that working the engine hard is not when the hybrid can shine. Things like regenerative braking to charge the batteries usually doesn’t happen when the engine’s pushing out the HP, which is more likely for users of this kind of truck. If emissions are a factor, the 10% improvement doesn’t seem worth it when you can get a smaller engine with more powerful gear ratios, or a similar vehicle with improved emissions technology.

The truck certainly looks nice, but is the “hybridization” really worth it?

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