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General Motors recently announced that they expect a 40% mileage boost for city driving for the hybrid versions of their big SUVs. Sounds great, but guess what? This would bring their city mpg estimates of the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon up to just 19 or 20 miles per gallon (these same vehicles will get a projected 20-21 mpg in highway driving).
While other brands are boasting 50-80% gains for their largest SUVs, GM doesn’t want to sacrifice towing capacity or off-road performance. Thus, they’re using a conventional four wheel drive system with low-range gears that will give soccer moms across the country the ability to tow up to 6200 pounds as well as the freedom to drive in mud or sand.
The downside for GM is that they’re projecting a lost on the sale of each hybrid, with the hybrid hardware adding $10,000 to the cost of each vehicle produced. While they’ll almost certainly add some of that back to the sticker price, they won’t be able to tack it all on and still sell vehicles. If these new hybrids catch on, however, GM will be able to push down the component costs and (hopefully) turn a profit.
My take: While I’m a huge fan of energy conservation, I hardly think that hybrid mega-SUVs are the way to do it. It’s better than nothing, but simply buying a smaller car would do way more to reduce your fuel consumption. Yes, I realize that there are circumstances in which such vehicles are necessary, but the vast majority of people don’t really need a monstrous vehicle. Okay, I’ll get of my soapbox now.
[Source: USA Today]
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