GM Execs Say Hybrids May Not Sell Well Without Govt Help

GM officials see hybrids as low volume products.

Published: 07-Jan-2003

OIT (Dow Jones)--Without help from the government in the form of consumer incentives of some sort, executives at General Motors Corp. (GM) admitted there may not be a huge market for hybrid-powered vehicles.

Still, the company said Monday at the North American International Auto Show that it plans to introduce three different hybrid engines across as many as seven different models in the next four years. Later this year, commercial fleet customers will have the option of buying GMC Sierras and Chevrolet Silverados with hybrid engines, which will increase fuel economy in those engines by 10% to 12%, the company said. The trucks will be available to retail customers in 2004.

Japanese auto makers Honda Motor Co. (HMC) and Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) both have small hybrid electric/gasoline cars on the market. But the penchant for large, hulking cars in America has limited the market for the pint-sized foreign cars.

"We're going to come in with pickup trucks, utilities and midsized cars," said Rick Wagoner, GM's president and chief executive. "So we're going at the volume heart of the market, and we're going to offer different hybrid systems, which have different costs and performance ramifications."

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