Just like cars, pickup trucks are under increasing legislative pressure to offer more efficient, higher gas-mileage options to buyers.
For Ford, that’s meant offering its popular F150 full-size pickup truck with a V-6 EcoBoost engine to help gas mileage as well as reinstating a standard V-6 engine option, choices that have become extremely popular with Ford customers.
But as it contemplates it next generation pickups, General Motors knows that turbocharged V-6 engines is the only way to get better gas mileage out of pickups.
Talking with Automotive News (subscription required) last week, GM North America President Mark Reuss explained that replacing V-8 engines in full-size pickups with V-6 engines wasn’t a huge priority for the firm.
Instead, he explained, keeping a mid-size, lighter pickup with a fuel efficient drivetrain made more sense for the company.
Essentially, his argument revolves around the fact that since Ford stopped making the Ranger pickup, it only offers full-size pickups.
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The F150 ecoboost, while better than a V-8 F150 on gas mileage, can’t match the F150 V-8 model’s towing and load-carrying capabilities.
To produce a pickup truck with a V-6 engine that still gives good power and towing, Reuss points out, GM would have to make a smaller, lighter pickup truck.
That’s exactly what GM is planning, in the form of the next-generation Colorado mid-size pickup truck. Replacing the old, now-defunct Colorado and its underpowered straight-five engine, the new Coloardo could be the perfect platform for an eco-minded drivetrain.
GM won’t be drawn on what will power that vehicle yet, but one possible solution is rumored to be a V-6 turbocharged unit or perhaps a standard V-6 engine, leaving its full-size pickup trucks with a traditional V-8 drivetrain.
Of course, it’s worth noting that GM isn’t new to the green pickup game: its current green pickup is the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 15 Dual-Mode Hybrid.
In its two-wheel drive variant, it can achieve an impressive 20 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for a combined EPA rating of 21 mpg which beats the Ford F150 EcoBoost’s combined gas mileage rating by 3 mpg.
Here’s the catch.
GM’s current two-mode hybrid system, used in the full-size Silverado, is notoriously complicated AND expensive to build. In fact, some sources cite GM’s current two-mode hybrid system costs at least $10,000 per vehicle. That extra cost has helped sales remain abysmal compared to the hybrid versions of full-size SUVs from GM that share the same platform.
Using a turbocharged, V-6 engine, or perhaps even a larger version of the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine used in the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze, should be cheaper for GM, meaning the price of buying an economical pickup truck from GM could drop too.
But with GM working on a revised dual-mode hybrid system, not to mention dual-fuel pickup trucks, anything, perhaps even a combination of all three options, is possible.