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Old 03-09-2012, 02:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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To start out with, a hybrid is not going to do much for you, if you want to keep the current engine, and have the large hauling/towing ability available on demand. That's down to the fundamental logic of hybrids. You can find it discussed at length elsewhere here (or on the web), but briefly a vehicle uses much less power to cruise down the (level) road at steady speed than it does to accelerate. IC engines are typically much less efficient at low load (see threads on BSFC maps). So a hybrid works by using a small engine that's more optimally sized for cruising, and adds power from electric (or hydraulic) for acceleration.

Second point here is that the size of the batteries needed depends on the mass that you're going to accelerate. The battery that works acceptably in my 1850 lb Insight isn't going to do squat in a truck that size, even unloaded. And conversely, a battery that is big enough is going to cost big bucks.

(Side note: if you read articles on hybrid trucks, you'll see that they're aimed at applications with a lot of stop & go, like UPS delivery, garbage trucks, and so on, where they get the benefit of constant regen, and which is why hydraulic works better. But you're doing highway commuting, so not much chance for regen.)

As others have said, improving aerodynamics is your best bet. I'd suggest looking at the tapered bed caps others have done, and maybe even a boat tail.
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