LOS ANGELES — General Motors initially will target markets on the East and West coasts for its 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid.
Chevrolet also will limit sales of its upcoming Two Mode hybrid vehicles to dealerships that undergo special training.
"There are specific markets that are particularly big in both large sport-utilities and hybrids," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager.
Shipments of the Two Mode 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid will begin in late January. The Two Mode 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid pickup, unveiled at the auto show here, will go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2008. Like the Tahoe, the Silverado will be equipped with a 6.0-liter V-8 and an electrically variable transmission.
Chevrolet will use a pool distribution system for the Two Mode Tahoe Hybrid and Silverado Hybrid. For example, Tahoe Hybrids will be stored on a lot near the Arlington, Texas, assembly plant.
"When a dealer has an order, we will ship him one," Peper told Automotive News.
To sell the Two Mode hybrids, Chevrolet is requiring dealerships to have trained and certified technicians, said Carl Hillenbrand, Chevrolet future product manager.
The hybrid models will have an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty, including the battery pack. That compares with a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty for nonhybrid models.
"Because of all the technology, the 300-volt system, there will be safety training, technical training on how to diagnose and replace anything that may go wrong," Hillenbrand said. A special tool package that costs about $2,000 is required.
"We want the salespeople trained as well so they understand what they are selling," Hillenbrand said.
Peper said he believes hybrid sales could account for 5 to 10 percent of each nameplate's sales.
At this point, Chevrolet does not know how many dealers will want to sell the Tahoe Hybrid and Silverado Hybrid. "Many, I think, will step up to the plate" eventually, Hillenbrand said. "In the beginning, it will be in a smaller number of dealerships, but it will grow out as we move forward.
"It will not be every dealer, but it will be the majority."