Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Chevy's Hybrids To Be Game Changers? Maybe Not


After sucking fumes behind Toyota and its popular Prius, GM is stepping up to the plate with the next generation of hybrids. They are called 2-mode hybrids because they get electric motor assist in the city AND on the highway. GM unveil the first of these 2-mode hybrids today at the Texas State Fair in Dallas, and the company is counting on these gas-sippers to be "game changers". After all, the new Chevy Tahoe will get 21 mpg in the city. Impressive for an SUV.

I've yet to drive one of these 2-mode hybrids, but I'm not sure these will be game changing models. Why? It all comes down to selling that message and removing the halo that hovers over Toyota when it comes to hybrids. The hybrid market is growing, but when I talk with potential buyers I repeatedly hear them say, "Yeah, but there really aren't any hybrids beyond the Prius" Really? Ford sells a hybrid Escape. Honda sells a hybrid Civic. Nissan now sells a hybrid Altima. And yet, I often hear people tell me Toyota is really the only automaker that does hybrids.

GM, and frankly the other automakers, need to change this perception. Some of that will come through better marketing. And some of it will also have to come by rolling out a hybrid that truly is a "game changer" Who knows? Maybe the two-mode hybrid SUV's with their towing capacity, will be the one's that convince people GM, Chrysler, and the other automakers are also in the hybrid business.

Here is another blog to check out focusing on concept and hybrid cars.

Questions?  Comments?