OEM Insider
Electric Trucks-But Can You Jump-start Them?

Today, you can go to your Chevy dealer and buy the technically advanced Tahoe SUV hybrid. This is a truly slick piece of engineering that pairs a 6.0L aluminum-block V-8 with variable valve timing to an electrically variable transmission (EVT) that takes the place of a conventional gearbox. The combination delivers impressive mileage that is 20-percent better on the highway and 40-percent better in the city.

For 2009, GM is expanding this powertrain into the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado. Keep in mind that these won't be wheezer trucks with gutless acceleration. On engine power alone, the hybrid drive makes 364 hp. This power is enhanced by two electric motors that occupy the space where the conventional transmission used to be. These motors consume 300 volts when you stab the throttle.

Although we haven't driven a Sierra or Silverado yet, we spent 10 days behind the wheel of a Tahoe Hybrid, and that heavy SUV knows how to move out. Especially during 40- to 60-mph bursts of wide-open throttle, the Tahoe felt equal to a 6.2L Escalade. In further proof that these hybrids will be real trucks, GM rates the Silverado and Sierra towing capacity at 6,100 pounds. The trucks will come with Crew Cabs and be available in 2WD and 4WD models.

Not to be left out, Dodge recently announced a two-mode hybrid version of its Ram 1500. This truck will not be available at the beginning of the '09 model year but should come on line with the '10 editions. The Ram uses the same system that's in the Dakota and Aspen hybrids: a Hemi backed by the EVT.

First Blood: '09 Ram Beats F-150
While the comparison stories have yet to be written, in one significant way the '09 Dodge Ram has already whooped on the '09 Ford F-150: The Ram is getting into the market first. It goes on sale September 1, while the Ford has been delayed until late fall. Ford explained the delay was not related to product development; it was to make it easier for dealers to clear their lots of the outgoing '08 F-150 models they already have in stock. Dodge 1, Ford 0.

2009 Miscellaneous Updates
GM's Silverado/Sierra twins are carryover for 2009, with only these major changes: A new six-speed automatic will be offered with several different V-8 engines. Also, the powerful 6.2L V-8 (used to be available only on the Sierra Denali and Cadillac Escalade) becomes optional on Crew Cab models.

The Canyon and Colorado finally offer V-8 power in the form of the 300hp 5.3L that we've long expected. The engine will make these midsize trucks better, but the timing of this announcement relative to fuel economy isn't great. Towing capacity with the V-8 increases to 6,000 pounds. To go with this extra power, the trucks get a new braking system with four-wheel ABS that is further enhanced with StabiliTrak electronic stability control.

Over at Toyota, the '09 Tacoma will now include side curtain and seat-mounted airbags, ABS, traction control, and stability control. Other less significant changes were made to trim and features. The fullsize Tundra will be offered with standard E85 fuel capability in markets where you can find an ethanol pump, plus there are two new option packages from TRD: one for rockcrawlers and the other for asphalt carvers.

10 Mostly WorthlessFacts
1. In 1814 in the London parish of St. Giles, a ruptured brewery tank containing nearly 3,500 barrels of beer flooded the town, killing nine people and injuring others. We still say beer does a body good.

2. The average home creates more pollution than the average car. Soon, you'll have to have your house smog-tested.

3. During the Eisenhower administration, major interstate highways constructed under the National Interstate Highway System were numbered according to their direction of travel. Northbound and southbound highways have one- or two-digit odd numbers that grow from west to east. Eastbound and westbound highways are denoted by even numbers with the numbers growing larger from south to north.

4. William Phillips Eno (1845-1958) invented the stop sign, penned the first police traffic-code book, and designed traffic patterns for New York City and London. That's pretty impressive stuff for a man who never drove a car. He preferred horseback riding and a chauffeur when he travelled great distances.

5. Clinophobia is the fear of beds. We wonder what the fear of making the bed is, because we suffer from that.

6. A sneeze travels out of your mouth at over 100 mph! Calin wishes his S-10 was that fast.

7. The ZIP in ZIP code stands for "zone improvement plan."

8. In September 1987, the wife of Godfather of Soul James Brown was arrested for speeding and drug possession in Georgia. At her trial in 1988, her lawyer's defense was that she should be granted diplomatic immunity because of her husband's "diplomatic" status. The ploy didn't work.

9. A jiffy is an actual unit of time for 1/100 of a second

10. Pain travels through your body at 350 feet per second. So, it only takes a jiffy to figure out something is a pain in your ass.

Say What?
The staff speaks and you listen. It's that simple. This month's question is:
Like smoking inside of burger king, it's now illegal to talk on the cell phone while driving in california. Will you abide by the law and buy a star trek ear piece, modify your truck for hands-free phone operation, or give the man the middle finger and keep on dialin' while drivin'?

Kevin: I just want to state that this law is not going to improve safety on the road. There are still stupid drivers out there getting distracted by other things in their vehicles. If nothing else, I'm sure a lot of people will still get distracted while trying to figure out how to operate that new Bluetooth device. From what I recall, the use of headphones while driving a vehicle is already illegal. So, doesn't this make an earpiece like a bluetooth illegal too? Or is it still legal because you can still hear with one ear.

Anyhow, I will abide by the law because I cannot afford to get a ticket. The Bluetooth option won't work because it's not feasible for me to charge its power often just so I can talk for a few minutes. Also, having a phone conversation is not important enough for me to modify my vehicle for a hands-free system. I'll just stick to the headset that came with my phone. Its not wireless, but it'll get the job done.

Calin: I'm kind of glad they passed this law, even though it will be a pain in the butt for most. I am very tired of people swerving and encroaching in my lane while they are dialing their stupid phones. I don't think I'll buy an ear piece-I'll just not pick up until I'm at my destination. I don't like having a leash, I mean cell phone, anyway. This will just give me one more excuse not to use it, so call at your own risk.

Mike: I get a lot accomplished on the phone while driving, so I'll just outfit the truck with Bluetooth because I hate holding the phone or wearing an earpiece anyway.

Andy: Lucky for me, depending on how you look at it, my truck got broken into last year and all my stero equipment stolen out of it. Knowing the Hands-Free law was soon coming up I opted for a Bluetooth enabled stero as a replacement. The lucky part of the story is that the insurance company paid for the new unit so I was not out the few hundred bucks that it cost. I think that if the old stereo hadn't been stolen I would probably have gone out and got a headset and looked like I had been assimilated into the Borg. Of course I wouldn't wear the thing around like it's some sort of jewelry like I see some idiots doing. I mean what's up with that? You look like a tool with that thing attached to your face!

Sport Truck Slang Term O' The Month
#2,800: pinch (pi?nch) v.
Pinching isn't limited to the body mod associated with custom trucks. To get pinched also means to get picked up by the cops or to steal something. You can also get pinched if you pinch someone's rims.

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