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August 20, 2007

Hybrids, Heels and Wheels

Hybrid_tahoe_2 The 2008 Tahoe Hybrid is coming in the fall of 2007 utilizing GM's 2-Mode Hybrid system, a technology that GM hopes will take the lead into the world of competitive hybrid vehicles. I had the opportunity to test drive this new 2008 vehicle which will be built in Arlington, Texas.

I took a walk around the Tahoe Hybrid before my test drive and found the rear hatch to be a soft electronic latch which saves on nail breakage. The running boards are retractable and standard equipment and good for hopping up or out in high heels. Kids and smaller adults will appreciate the running boards as well. The wheel base is slightly lower too.

The test drive vehicle had large HYBRID signs on it and I giggled as I started it up looking forward to the spectacle of cruising around in busy Santa Monica traffic being so BIG and SO Green.

The design of this car was influenced by the clever GM Vehicle Line Director Mary Sipes, a 25 year GM veteran with many great stories to tell.


Recent Article Excerpt:

Mary Sipes, one of several women who have made it into the upper echelon of GM management, is the mastermind behind one very unusual day.

Ms. Sipes' MBA and her on-a-mission determination to produce the best vehicle for the customer has put her near the very top of a very male business. Engineers, designers, purchasers and all involved in GM's future, full-line SUVs work with her. Sipes answers to Gary White, GM North America Vice President and Full-Size Truck Vehicle Line Executive, who is in charge of the new 900-platform, which includes the Tahoe, Suburban, Denali, Escalade and Avalanche.

High_heels_askpatty_5 When the SUVs were in development, Ms. Sipes took the future, full-line SUV team out to the proving grounds to do some vehicle testing. They expected the usual driving exercises, but she had another idea. Hint, hint: On the way she stopped at a shoe store to buy several pairs of size-12 high heels.

"A few times a year we go off site and try to have a learning exercise that is a lot of fun," said Sipes. "We took our group to the proving grounds and broke them into teams. One guy on each team had to be Mr. Mom. We dressed him in a garbage bag to simulate a tight skirt. We gave him rubber gloves with press on nails, a purse, a baby and a baby stroller and some chores like loading groceries."

With all female handicaps in place, the men were then required to go through what women do routinely every day. They had to put the baby in a car seat and buckle them in, fold up the stroller, pull up the liftgate and stow the stroller, put grocery bags in the back. They then had to walk around the vehicle and step into it not using the running board. Wearing the gloves with press on nails they had to operate the key fob, adjust the radio and then figure out what to do with their purses-without breaking or losing a nail. Lost or broken fingernails or torn garbage bag skirts resulted in points against the final score.

"We had a lot of laughs," said Sipes, "but the men's awareness of how women function in the vehicle really changed."


I met the GM Mr. Mom  mentioned here, ( Mark Cieflak, Assistant Chief Engineer for GM Hybrid Trucks), and I can assure you GM is passionate about their products and this Chevy SUV GM group understands the needs of women car buyers.

Bonus: There is even a large center compartment to store your purse! Thank you Mary Sipes and the GM design team, every woman I know complains about not having this feature.

Hybrid_tahoe_inside_3 In electric mode the Tahoe Hybrid is very quiet drive with lots of dash and LCD controls to help keep in maximum fuel economy mode are nice and easy to read and understand. Mash the gas and you will find it to be very responsive. Power is there when you need it.

Designed to meet the highest safety standards, this Hybrid SUV comes with sensors to shut down battery power if crash is detected. General Motors has not finalized standard safety equipment or interior options for the Tahoe, which is expected to go on sale later in 2007 however,  Mark Cieflak, Assistant Chief Engineer for GM Hybrid Trucks assured me there will be "no compromise" on safety for this vehicle.

All GM models come with the OnStar basic package for one year. For more about OnStar go here.

Best feature? The 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid gets 25% less consumption of fuel over a long term and 40% improvement in city driving.

Copy_of_jody_devere_v71_5 Jody DeVere

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