What Do Tesla and Jay Leno Have in Common?

Jay and Bob VIA
Apparently, they both love the idea of electrified pickup trucks.

We're hearing reports from Automobilemag.com that a top Telsa spokesman is interested in taking the company's high-performance all-electric powertrains — installed in Tesla's Roadster and Model S vehicles — to see how the same basic powertrain strategy could work inside a midsize or full-size pickup truck.

Apparently, Tesla has a model or two to design and build before allotting the time, energy and money for a fully electric pickup, but with all the attention (and profit margin) that full-size pickups are getting as they try to squeeze out every mpg they can, it makes sense that Tesla might be in the right place to take a risk on a function-first, no-nonsense electric work truck.

We hope Tesla does a lot of studying on truck buyers, truck use and truck-ness, sort of the way Via Motors did with the VTrux, which seems to have caught the attention of Jay Leno. It's taken much longer than we expected, but Bob Lutz, the longtime auto exec and recently retired GM vice chairman, has finally gotten around to bringing Leno one of the extended-range electric pickup trucks.

At the 2012 North American International Auto Show, Via Motors debuted its GM-based full-size pickups, vans and SUVs with a totally new with a 4.3-liter V-6 gas engine that can power a set of electric motors used for the vehicle's propulsion. (They basically replace the existing powertrain.) The plug-in electric truck can run about 40 miles on electric power alone, then another 300 miles with the V-6 acting as a generator. Of course, the VTrux's coolest feature is that it can also be used as an independent 110- or 220-volt power source for just about all your professional and personal electrical needs. 

Lutz is a spokesman and consultant for Via and is a great promoter of his point of view. Search on Google or YouTube for his recent appearances on the "The Late Show With David Letterman," "The Colbert Report" or "Real Time with Bill Maher." In fact, In addition to these TV appearances, he recently stopped by Leno's 100,000-square-foot dream building to tape an episode of Jay Leno's Garage, where the two discussed and drove one of the VTrux vehicles (they're offered in regular, extended, and crew-cab configurations) and talked about how impressive and functional trucks like these could be.

Jay's final comment after driving the VTrux was, "Well, there's the future." Of course, it is a bit of a schmooze fest, but there is some good info here. 

Could more extended-range or fully electric pickup trucks (or bigger SUVs) be in our future? The short answer is "most likely," especially if the prices come down (a lot), but not anytime soon. 

 

Comments

Tesla will get into pickups and it will be a Tundra http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/2012/03/23/electric-tundra-test-mule/.

Electric pickups have been around for years.
Phoenix motorcars... hello?

That's not a VIA, that's a Chevrolet. I suppose though GM is itching to dump these GMT900 piles of junk on the market somewhere. Especially the Silverado version with all that wavy sheetmetal on the bed over the rear wheels.. Might as well do it with a company that will be belly up in a few years.

I'd love the idea of an EV pickup.. but not a full size truck though..

Something short and wide and Low. can't tow sh*t, but RWD, 2 door, 5 seater with short bed that extends into cab and out the back via tailgate. Side bed storage. something that looks like the 2014 Sierra but scaled down by 20% but still wide enough to be comfortable.

60 mile range on 6 hour 110 charge
15 mile range on .5 hour 220 rapid charge

Cost about 1.25 a day in Electrical to fuel.

I could see where a contractor might benefit from this for a work vehicle; saving them from having to carry or tow a generator around all day; but for the average guy.... I doubt the average person who buys a truck will be impressed with this at all. We still like having engines under the hood, and rumbling pipes out the back.

Maybe for fleet vehicles but most trucks guys want the sound of a big V8 or at least a turbo 6.

@Donald, I agree this truck will go no were in sales. I do love my Hemi roaring at 5,000 RPM through that Flowmater 60 series. Good stuff. Just go back and listen to the Ram Runner on PUTC off road challenge.

i think the biggest ? is what would they need to sell it for?, if they could get a reg cab on the road for under 30K,w/4x4 then that would be something that a few of us could use, where I live reg is at $4.50/gal and if I could drive around on just a charge every day that would be sweet.

I'm not sure why they would use the 4.3 V6. It is a reliable engine but not the most modern and/or economical. A small diesel would be a better choice as a powerplant for an electrical generator which is really all that truck is.

Make batteries worth a damn, then electric vehicles might be worth it.

Lou: they did say they were using a totaly new 4.3! mabey they know something we don't?

sandman4X4 - I see what you mean. Interesting.

The batteries cost $8,000 to $10,000 when they go out, so I'll pass. I just don't believe that we have the technology yet.

This truck is exactly the same concept as the Chevy Volt. It's an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) so there are no range limitations. It's perfect for fleets, especially contractors who could use its generator to power their tools or anyone who needs power in a remote location. I've driven this truck and its 402 Hp engine has plenty of torque and it drives nicely. When gas prices his $8/gallon like in Europe now, people will be fighting for a truck like this. I average 2,000 mpg per gallon in my Chevy Volt and would NEVER go back to a gas car. 100% gas cars will be dead in a few years. EREVs and electric cars are the future. They are good for the environment, powerful, quiet and will get America off independent and off foreign oil!



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