GOOD

Making Hybrid Pickups Work for America

The idea of hybrid pickup trucks may offend some macho drivers, but Toyota and Ford are bringing them closer to reality.


I had borrowed my mom’s Prius to drive to a music festival in upstate New York. But when I tried to leave, the car was stuck in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere. A few of the young men who working as attendants at the makeshift festival parking lot pushed the front of the car while I floored the engine in a futile attempt to dislodge it.

At low speeds the Prius runs on electric power, so there was no roaring, revved engine to prove I was giving it my all. And as I learned later, the car couldn’t work as hard in this situation as a gas-only vehicles: If the tires were spinning too fast when they caught on the slippery surface, the resulting force could damage the Prius’ precious electric engine.

A minute or two later, the young men gave up on me and my wimpy car. They hooked up the Prius to their red-blooded Ford pickup and towed me out.

For as long as there have been hybrids, this has been the dynamic. Weenie greenies drive hybrids. People who drive trucks rescue the hybrid drivers when their cars can’t get the job done. But five years from now, the pickup pulling a Prius out of the mud could be a hybrid itself.

Over the summer, the Obama administration cut a deal with the auto industry to improve fuel efficiency in the country’s fleet of vehicles. Pickup trucks and SUVs don’t have to improve as quickly as cars do, but by 2025, they can no longer be the gas-guzzlers they are today. Car companies could make trucks more efficient without putting in hybrid engines, but the Obama administration built a deal-sweetener into the fuel efficiency standards for any company that starts producing hybrid trucks.

Car companies aren’t ignoring those incentives. Yesterday, Ford and Toyota announced that they’d be working together on building an engine system for hybrid trucks. The deal makes sense for both companies: Toyota has led the industry in hybrid technology, and Ford’s F-series pickups sell better than any other car in America. The two companies will design their own trucks, but the underlying technology will be the same. By cooperating, they’ll be able to put hybrid trucks on the market more quickly and at lower prices.

Options for hybrid pickups right now are slim. GMC has been selling hybrid versions of the Chevy Silverado and the GMC Sierra since 2003, but customers have complained about the price points. Toyota developed a concept vehicle called the Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck, but the company never produced the A-BAT commercially. One look explains why. The A-BAT saves gas using the same aerodynamic principles as the Prius, and its futuristic design raises questions about what self-respecting macho man would drive it.

But serious pickup drivers are beginning to rethink what kind of vehicle they’re willing to consider. Ford pickups equipped with the company’s turbo-charged V6 EcoBoost engine are outselling the more muscly V8 models. Here’s hoping eco-friendly trucks will still be able to pull us Prius drivers out of the mud when called upon.

Photo (cc) via flickr user David Reber


Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health