GM has announced that a select number of 2016 GMC Sierra as well as 2016 Chevy Silverado models will be offered with eAssist technology.
With this system, both V8-powered trucks can achieve up to 13% greater city fuel economy which is estimated to result in a 2 mpg improvement for both urban as well as highway environments.
The 2016 Sierra eAssist is said to offer an EPA-estimated 18 mpg while driving in the city, which is the equivalent of 13 liters/100 km - not bad considering that a 5.3-liter eAssist V8-powered Sierra will put down around 355 HP and 383 lb-ft (519 Nm) of torque.
GMC is making the new eAssist system exclusively available on the 2016 Sierra 1500 SLT crew cab 2WD model with the SLT Premium Plus package, though only 200 units will be produced and sold only through California dealers. Chevy on the other hand is offering approximately 500 Silverado eAssist trucks (1500 crew cab 2WD 1LT trim) for the 2016 model year - though based on feedback from initial customers, both brands will adjust production for the 2017 model year.
So what is eAssist and what does it do? It's basically a compact and lightweight propulsion system (lithium-ion battery pack) delivering an additional 13 HP and 44 lb-ft (60 Nm) of torque from the electric motor. Chevy calls it a "mild-hybrid" electrical system, which actually leverages many technologies and components from the Malibu Hybrid as well as software controls developed for the new Volt.
The system adds Stop/Start capability in heavy traffic, though it's the on-board electric motor that steals the show, providing boost during heavy acceleration and enabling the engine to operate in four-cylinder mode for longer periods. There's also regenerative braking available as well as aero enhancements for the GMC Sierra, such as a soft tonneau cover and automatic grille shutters which can close at speeds over 30 mph (48 km/h) in order to reduce drag and fuel consumption.
According to Chevrolet, it's "customers and small-business owners who use their trucks for more urban driving," who will benefit most from this upgrade, seen as how "the addition of eAssist can further reduce their fuel costs without sacrificing the utility they expect in a full-size truck."
The eAssist system adds only about 100 lbs (45 kg) to the vehicle's curb weight and will costs a $500 premium on the Silverado, as long as we're using a similarly equipped two-wheel drive 1500 crew cab 1LT model for comparison. The battery pack is located under the center console and there's also a liquid-cooled power inverter module located under the hood.