VIA Motors unveiled what the company is touting as the world’s first extended-range, electric hybrid pickup at the North American International Auto Show.
As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the pickup has a 4.3-liter V6 combustion engine, which is used only when the batteries need charging, coupled with a 150-kilowatt electric generator, according to the company. The line of vehicles, called eREV, also boasts a 402-horsepower electric motor and a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which provides up to a 40-mile range.
“This is the revolution. We call it the eRevolution,” said Bob Lutz, a member of VIA Motors’ board and the former General Motors vice chairman who has been dubbed the father of the extended-range Chevy Volt.
He explained that it makes sense for the electric sector to focus on the most-popular type of vehicle and the one that uses the most energy.
“Once you electrify, you will never go back,” Lutz said.
The vehicle also can be used as a power source, be it for a hair dryer on a camping trip, arc welding at a job site or helping out at a customer’s house during a power outage, according to Alan Perriton, VIA Motors’ chief operating officer and a former GM senior executive, who demonstrated how light the 108-pound engine was by lifting it.
VIA Motors also makes extended-range SUVs and vans.
The base price for the pickup is $57,000, according to company spokesman David West, who added that six have been sold, all to Pacific Gas & Electric.
2012 is “the year we say goodbye to our addiction to oil,” intoned the VIA Motors promo video that kicked off the company’s NAIAS news conference.
Via Motors will introduce a new electric-powered full-size pickup truck, 4×4 SUV and cargo van at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 10. Making the introduction will be Bob Lutz, former vice president of General Motors Corp. and called by some as the father of the Chevy Volt.
Pickuptrucks.com reported that the powertrain in the new Via eREV (which stands for extended-range electric vehicle) will work similarly to the Volt’s system. Lithium-ion batteries power the wheels for a full electric range of around 40 miles. When the batteries are low, a small onboard gas engine will start up and provide extended-range capability for the batteries, up to 400 miles using the onboard generator, averaging up to 100 mpg.
The system can be charged from either a 120-volt household outlet or from a more powerful (and quicker) 240-volt charging station. In addition, each Via vehicle will be able to generate 15 kilowatts of mobile power (at either 120 or 240 volts AC) for the home, work or emergency services.
For now, Via is buying GM ladder-on-frame platforms (Chevy Silverado 1500, Tahoe and Express), but in theory nothing prevents the powertrain technology from being adapted to another full-size truck chassis. In the future, the business model could work much the same way current motorhome companies buy platforms from various OEs depending on customers’ wants and needs.
Via began taking orders for 2012 for its extended-range electric pickup truck from many of America’s largest fleets. Production of the eREV pickup is scheduled to begin in 2012, with plans to ramp up production to 20,000 units per year over the next few years, including the eREV SUV, van and other large eREV vehicles.
Via plans to sell directly to fleets initially, then later to consumers. More info on Via Motors may be found at www.viamotors.com.