Via Motors will introduce a new electric-powered full-size pickup truck, 4x4 SUV and cargo van at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 10. Making the introuduction will be Bob Lutz, former vice president of GM and called by some as the father of the Chevy Volt.
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. To see a video of Bob Lutz's announcing the vehicles at the Detroit auto show, click here.