I love my 2010 Nissan Frontier. It’s got a V6 for towing, 4WD for hellish New England winters, Crew Cab for full seating and a spray-on bed liner with adjustable anchor points for strapping motorcycles and other toys in the back. When it comes to a decent pickup truck, no vehicle is more versatile.
But there’s one thing I’d love to change about my Nissan Frontier, and that’s the fuel economy. In order to achieve 20MPG, I have to drive like a Rotary Club member on the way to Bingo night. I know that 20MPG is fairly impressive for a truck, but after driving a Chevy Volt (40MPG average) and Toyota Prius (over 50MPG average), the old Nissan just seemed outdated.
So, I did what most truck owners in my dejected frame of mind would do and considered trading it back to the dealer for cash or a down payment on a hybrid. After many weeks of deliberation, I decided that was one of the most moronic ideas I’d ever had. I got that truck for a reason, dagnabit! You can’t toss a 500-pound Kawasaki in the back of a Civic Hybrid.
So I decided to keep the Frontier and wait for Nissan, Honda or Toyota to develop the first hybrid pickup truck. By the time my payments are up on the Frontier in a few years, there’s bound to be an environmentally friendly truck on the market, right?
According to Ford CEO Alan Mulally, it’s going to be a much longer wait, and that’s totally bogus. The main reason comes down to the costs of building a hybrid or EV. According to the stats, the typical hybrid car gains 100 extra pounds and an extra $2,000 in order to become a hybrid. Plug-in hybrids see an extra 300 pounds and $7,000-$8,000 while full electric vehicles are saddled with an extra 600-700 pounds and a frightening $12,000-$15,000 extra in cost.
Can you imagine what it would take to completely tear down a Nissan Frontier’s chassis and start from the ground up? Not to mention an all-new powertrain, wheel set, dash and controls. A hybrid truck would require lighter, higher quality components in order to offset the added weight, and the market would narrow significantly, given the fact that hybrid trucks would flog the wallet anywhere between the $45,000-$60,000 price range.
Plus, truck makers would need to find a way to translate the same amount of torque from a gas-guzzling engine to a whispering Lithium-Ion powered motor in order to offer similar towing capacities. Then there’s the social disgrace element. “That guy drives one ‘a them pansy haabreed trucks. That ain’t no real truck!” The Chevy vs. Ford truck wars are bad enough. A driver of a hybrid truck would be a sitting duck for any true good ‘ole boy.
But I digress. Regardless of price or social stigma, someone needs to build a hybrid truck. Just git her done! Over time, they’ll become more affordable and widely accepted. Unless truck makers are leapfrogging the whole hybrid/EV craze entirely and have their eyes on Hydrogen or another form of alternative fuel.
But until then, I’m still going to drive like a Sloth out of a sauna in order to savor that precious 20MPG.