- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
DETROIT General Motors said it will offer hybrid powertrains as an option on 12 of its most popular models beginning this year as it tests the public appetite for expensive but environmentally friendly vehicles.
The automaker will offer three different hybrid powertrains on a range of models beginning with the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado pickup trucks.
The first hybrid-enabled Sierras and Silverados will be available to fleet customers later this year, followed by vehicles for consumers in 2004.
The technology will be in the Saturn Vue compact sport utility in 2005, followed by the Chevrolet Equinox sport utility in 2006.
"Although today's hybrid market represents relatively low volumes, we're well positioned to meet market demand as it develops," GM President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner said at the Detroit auto show.
Officials concede, however, that demand for the environmentally friendly version of GM's gas-guzzling sport utes, pickups and cars is likely to be slow.
Sales of the three existing gas-electric models on the U.S. market, Toyota's Prius and Honda's Insight and hybrid-enabled Honda Civic, totaled just 36,000 in 2002.
Mr. Wagoner said that GM aims to give the technology a "big push," but given the increase in sticker price for a hybrid model compared with a conventional model (several thousand dollars), the automaker is looking to pitch the product to corporations first, consumers second. And it wants the government to chip in tax incentives to stimulate demand.
"Consumer-based tax credits will play a critical role in gaining market acceptance by making these technologies more affordable," Mr. Wagoner said at the auto show.

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