Government Fleet Top News

GM Hybrid Pickups Help Fla. Hurricane Victims

August 25, 2004

DETROIT — General Motors’ Chevrolet and GMC gasoline-electric hybrid pickup trucks — which double as mobile power generators — got their first real-world test helping hurricane victims in Florida, according to Automotive News on August 16. Each truck is equipped with four 120-volt outlets, which can be used to power refrigerators, lights, drills, saws, computers, and other electrical appliances that use standard household voltage, said GM powertrain spokesman Matt Kester. “You can run four refrigerators at the same time,” said Kester. The truck also makes enough electricity to power air conditioners. GM is planning to send between 40 and 50 of the trucks to the hardest hit areas of Florida. The trucks just started limited production and are in short supply. GM is building just 2,500 units this year. Kester said GM has another 30 or so pre-production hybrid trucks in inventory that the automaker might be able to send to Florida. However, those trucks, built for testing purposes, may not be street-legal. Kester said GM lawyers have to look into whether the trucks can be used. About a million Florida residents were without power two days after Hurricane Charley roared through the central part of the state, leaving 17 people dead, thousands homeless, and billions of dollars in damage. Some residents have been told that they will be without power for up to two weeks. GM has 50 of the trucks already on the ground in Florida. They were sold to Miami Dade County this summer, the biggest fleet order to date for the trucks. The county has committed one truck for hurricane relief because the rest are being used to provide backup power for an upcoming election, said a county spokesman. GM also has three of the trucks in its press fleet and those also may be sent to the eight counties where damage is extensive. The GM trucks generate power while idling and can run indefinitely without overheating. With a full tank of gas, a Silverado or Sierra hybrid truck can generate electricity for about 32 hours, said GM powertrain spokesman Matt Kester. As a safety measure the trucks can be locked in park with the keys removed and doors locked while the engine is running.

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