Don’t look now, but it looks like the evolution of electric automobiles may finally be turning towards trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) thanks to Via Motors.
Recently, I watched a video featuring Jay Leno’ s Garage. In the 12-minute video, Leno discusses what “more or less is a truck version of the Chevy Volt,” called VTrux. Via Motors board member Bob Lutz, who was instrumental in getting the Chevy Volt off the ground, further discussed the potential of these new hybrid electric trucks and SUVs in the market.
What I found interesting is that the new hybrid electric pickup truck will allow you to drive the first 40 miles purely on electricity, resulting in close to zero emissions. That is partly thanks to a 24kWh Li-ion battery pack as part of the Via Motors Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) power train. The vehicle takes about four hours to charge at 220, according to CarTech.
After it reaches the first 40 miles, a small V6 engine can give the truck an extra 400 miles, according to Lutz.
The new hybrid electric trucks will get around 100 estimated miles per gallon in fuel economy, according to Via Motors website. The company even points out that the new electric hybrid trucks can cut 75% off fuel costs. Meanwhile, charging the vehicle daily can possibly reduce refilling the gas tank to even less than ten times a year, and cost six cents per mile (driving in electric mode).
General Motors builds the basic specs of the truck, then sends it to Via Motors, who then electrically modifies it, Lutz said.
Currently, the first deliveries are going to big fleets, including PG&E, who are testing it out, Lutz said. He expects high-volume production of standardized vehicles is eight to nine months out.
While some may have moaned about gas-guzzling SUV and pick-up trucks as environmentally unsustainable in the past (or even today), and sales of SUVs and pickup trucks have slowed in recent years, the idea of a hybrid electric pickup truck may pump some new life into the truck market, as Lutz acknowledged in the video. He noted that the drop in sales is due to high gas prices and their negative environmental impact. Of course, electric hybrid trucks get around both of those hurdles.