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Chevrolet's Hybrid Pickup is New Model at Tampa, Fla., Auto Show

Stroll near this truck at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show and you'll find it hard to keep walking by.

Oct. 30—TAMPA, Fla. — Stroll near this truck at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show and you'll find it hard to keep walking by.

First, its bright green color catches your eye. Second, this 2005 Chevrolet Silverado uses gasoline and electric power to claim the title as the only U.S.-made full-size hybrid pickup.

Although Toyota and Honda have been pitching their hybrids in the U.S. market for more than a year, Chevrolet began selling limited quantities of its hybrid pickup truck only two months ago, said Tom Riley, Chevy's hybrid specialist, working the auto show floor at the Tampa Convention Center.

Three standard 14-volt batteries help power the vehicle, which is made in Fort Wayne, Ind. The two-wheel-drive pickup sells for $28,540 plus $2,500 for the hybrid feature.

Riley said there's a $1,000 discount on the hybrid price. Curious truck fans took a look at the green pickup — green because it's an environmentally conscious hybrid vehicle.

"I never knew it was in the truck," Don Kivisto of Dunedin said of the battery power.

The V8 truck offers gas mileage of 18 to 20 miles per gallon. Although that mileage might seem low compared with other hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, Riley said it's vital to keep in mind that the pickup is still a truck — which means "people want a truck to do truck work."

That means the pickup can carry 1,000 pounds in its truck bed and pull 7,400 pounds, Riley said. While the engine is off, an electrical outlet in the truck bed can power refrigerators during hurricanes or power saws for up to 32 hours, Riley said.

The Toyota Prius had its fans, too. Louis Frescura, a pharmacist from Brandon, sat behind the wheel of a four- door Prius and liked what he saw. The Prius, the world's first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, sells for $20,510. U.S. market sales have increased from 25,000 in 2003 to 45,000 in 2004. Gas mileage is 60 mpg in the city and 51 on the highway.

"It's the right car for the right time. With gas hitting $2 a gallon, you can't afford to spend too much on gas," said Frescura, noting it costs $30 to fill up his Ford Thunderbird.

Evelyn Hagmann of Venice is already convinced. She bought the Toyota hybrid and is on a waiting list of a year.

"The main thing is the price of gas," Hagmann said.

The auto show, which began Thursday, continues 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for active military, students, senior citizens and children. The Tampa Tribune is one of several sponsors for the show.

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