The Hybrid Pickup Truck Has a Surprisingly Long History

Do you think hybrid pickup trucks are brand new to the market? Think again. General Motors first offered a full-size hybrid truck for the 2005 model year. Almost every pickup truck manufacturer has built some form of a hybrid since then.

2005-2007: General Motors’ mild hybrid pickup truck

Promo photo of a GMC Sierra full-size hybrid pickup truck towing a boat down a rural road, trees visible in the background.
2010 GMC Sierra Hybrid | General Motors

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General Motors developed the first ever full-size hybrid pickup truck drivetrain for its 2005 GMC Sierra 1500/Chevrolet Silverado 1500. General Motors combined the truck’s starter and alternator into a single electric motor/generator unit. Today, this technology would be classified as a mild hybrid because it was connected to the front of the 5.3-liter gasoline V8 by a serpentine belt.

According to J.D.Power, this early hybrid was not able to propel itself on electric power alone. But the electric motor/generator helped with both braking and acceleration. In addition, the truck offered in-bed 12-volt power outlets which made it popular with fleet vehicle operators.

2009-2013 General Motors debuts the full hybrid pickup truck

Chevrolet Silverado full-size hybrid pickup truck parked in front of a mountain range.
2012 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid | General Motors

General Motors retired its mild hybrid drivetrain in 2007. Then in 2009, it rolled out a fully hybrid pickup truck. The 2009-13 hybrid Silverado 1500 and Sierra 1500 featured two electric motors/generators. Both of these units were housed in its four-speed automatic transmission. They were capable of launching the truck from a standstill and smoothing out its shifts. The result drove like a modern vehicle with a CVT.

Even though this truck came with a 6.0-liter V8, it was tuned more for fuel efficiency instead of power. The hybrid continued to be popular with fleet buyers but never took off enough with other truck owners to justify a third generation.

Read all about General Motors’ hybrid pickup trucks.

2018 Ram rolls out the eTorque mild hybrid

Computer generated cutaway of a Ram 1500 pickup truck to show how its eTorque mild hybrid system works.
2020 Ram 1500 with eTorque | Stellantis

Ram introduced the fifth generation of its half-ton 1500 for the 2018 model year. The automaker built its own mild hybrid system, called eTorque, by combining an alternator and starter into a single unit. Unlike GM’s mild hybrid, Ram’s eTorque was powerful enough to propel the truck on electric power alone.

The eTorque system went a long way towards smoothing out the operation of Ram’s existing engine start/stop system. It came standard on every Ram 1500 with a V6. It also was an option on the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine. V8 Rams equipped with eTorque got up to 3 more mpg in the city than their more traditional counterparts.

Check out the hybrid Ram pickup truck.

2021 Ford launches the PowerBoost

2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost full-size hybrid pickup truck towing an airstream RV trailer up a mountain road with a bridge visible in the background.
2021 Ford F-150 Limited with PowerBoost | Ford

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Ford waited until 2021 to offer its first hybrid pickup truck, but the resulting F-150 PowerBoost proved one of the best drivetrains in its class. This full hybrid powertrain includes an electric motor/generator between a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and a 10-speed automatic. Its aggressive regenerative braking results in 24 city/24 highway mpg.

The PowerBoost is actually a premium F-150 engine option. The EcoBoost is a powerful engine on its own, so its unsurprising that the hybrid F-150 makes 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque. See the results of the new Toyota Tundra’s i-FORCE MAX vs the PowerBoost or watch the original 2009 hybrid Chevrolet Silverado in action in the video below:

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