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Last December, I became owner of a 2014 Volt which uses GM's "voltec" system, where the first ~40 miles after plugging in are pure electric and the vehicle switches to gasoline afterward at ~40 MPG.

The Volt has regenerative brakes that can capture a percentage of the kinetic energy and return it to the battery. My initial research suggests about 75% of energy can be captured as long as braking is reasonably anticipated and sudden stopping doesn't occur. In practice, it's pretty easy to do this since the regen is fairly aggressive.

So here is my question. Normally, hybrids and EVs are small vehicles to emphasize their fuel economy. But for local, low speed driving, it seems like a hybrid with regenerative braking should get almost the same fuel economy regardless of size and weight, since most of the kinetic energy normally wasted in stop-start driving is recovered. Is there a good reason why there aren't any trucks on the market employing this technology?

For the same size battery pack it seems that the fuel savings could be much more significant in a larger, heavier vehicle. Additionally the % increase in manufacturing cost would be smaller since trucks are more expensive vehicles to begin with. Obviously highway fuel economy would still be mediocre since it's aero/drag limited.

The only "real" hybrid truck/SUV that I know about was the Tahoe/Yukon hybrid between 2008-2013, but it was a different set of technologies that operated more like a standard hybrid, and used a much smaller battery pack.

  • You are lumping the Volt into the same category as the rest of the hybrids on the market, when really it isn't like them. It does not use the gas engine for anything but recharging the batteries and uses electric motors to run the car it self in all cases. There are hybrid trucks on the road. GM utilized an inline hybrid system in their Chevrolet and Cadillac lines (may be others) for several years through two different models (I think the line is deceased now). It really didn't provide too much of an increase over what you'd get out of a normal truck, though. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jun 8 '17 at 20:55
  • Right - What I'm saying is that it SEEMS like the Volt's drivetrain concept would work really well in a truck or SUV, because these vehicles are heavy (and thus could recover a lot of energy from regenerative braking). Those GM hybrids you're referring to still had a 6.0 liter V8 which probably contributed to their mediocre fuel economy. – masospaghetti Jun 9 '17 at 17:16

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