Electric Pickup Truck to Debut at 2012 Detroit Auto Show

VIA pickup truck II

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

VIA electric plug II

VIA plug-in II

VIA Bob Lutz II

VIA sideview II


@Mark Williams - any more info? It doesn't quite add up. 40miles on electricity, good. Small gas generator to recharge batteries - ok. 400 miles on 4 gallons of gas running a generator to recharge the batteries to push a big truck 400 miles? The math and science don't add up.

*bangs head on desk* electric-powered no more coal electric high electricl bills

The Volt uses an electric motor, THEN a normal gas motor when the juice runs out. The normal gas motor only gets about 30mpg, nothing special. The Volt is only a good option if your driving range is within the batteries capability.

Does this truck operate like a Volt as is stated in the paragraph? Or is it an all-electric vehicle like the "Proton(?)" that came out some time ago with a backup gas generator/battery charger?

And as a truck, does it still have a towing capability? If so, what is the range while towing or hauling? If it drops from 40 miles to 5 miles range while towing or hauling than the vehicle doesn't make much sense. If it's only to be a people hauler stick to a volt with a small utility trailer hooked to the back.

got love filling up the tank with electrons while smoking a cigar!

Yeah, this article leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Especially in regard to woring/hauling and the vehicles actual capabilities in a real world situation.

If its anything like the VOLT it will catch on fire in your garage or during a car crash.
Chevy fails again

now thats a good looking truck!

Um, why isn't GM just putting out their own electric Chevrolet truck? They already have the Volt. This makes no sense to me and has fail written all over it. I don't care if Bob Lutz endorses it or not. 'VIA' has no resale value.

If 2 electric trucks are sitting side by side and one is a genuine Chevrolet Silverado with a Bowtie and the other truck is a rebadged Chevy that says VIA, guess what one I'm gonna buy. Same goes for a Ford F-Series or Dodge Ram.

Not a great platform for an electric vehicle. Why not use a smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic pickup??? Oh that's right, the big 2 1/2 killed them off!

VIA might as well be GMC. Nothing but a rebadged Chevy.

Isn't Bob Lutz responsible for giving us this abortion of a truck design in the first place? He probably feels obligated to get rid of the rest of the ones GM can't unload themselves. In fact I bet GM is giving them these trucks with their Voltec powertrain just to dump them. Sell them through VIA, then come out with a good looking Chevrolet Silverado in a year or two that has the same thing but upgraded. VIA then serves as 2 things, a testbed for the market and a dumping ground for these ugly Silverado's.

Why the push for electric? Does anyone realize most electric is created via fossil fuel? So you're saving oil by burning oil, only to have a less capable vehicle. Where is the common sense? Yes I know some electricity is created other ways, but most is oil and coal.

@ Tim. Good observation. No doubt there's something odd about this. The present Silverado is the one that pushed me over to Ford trucks. That and I couldn't get a Platinum or King Ranch interior in a Chevrolet for some reason. I think Bob was responsible for that too. He gave GMC a Denali trim but nothing to Chevrolet? I love Lutz but man is he braindead sometimes. He did some good things at GM but he also did some stupid things. No Denali for Chevrolet and this Aztek looking Silverado are the 2 worst.

will be a flop as you have to derate everything. I suppose some bags of food is about it.

Makes no sense to own something like this.

Eh.. No thanks. I'll wait for the real thing. I'm sure the new upcoming Silverado will have this and more as an option. These VIA rebadges will litter up Ebay motors in about 5 years at next to nothing prices.

Wow, nice lunchtime news. The company I work for runs literally about 100 Express vans and probably 50 or so Silverado's. We've run absolutely nothing but Chevrolet Trucks and Vans since the owner started up in 1968. We also have 7 Tahoe LTZ's in the fleet for out of town clients to use when they fly in.

With that in mind there's about 20 people in the office looking at this as I type. We're all scratching our heads as to why this isn't just a quality Chevrolet product? No way is the owner going to buy anything that says VIA on it. He won't even buy anything that says GMC and it's about the same thing. Until this is a real Chevy truck available at our local Chevrolet dealer we'll have to politely pass. All I can say is at least they're using the Express, Silverado and Tahoe platforms. The Bowtie has served us well in our business.

@ toycrusher84

QUOTE ; And as a truck, does it still have a towing capability? If so, what is the range while towing or hauling? If it drops from 40 miles to 5 miles range while towing or hauling than the vehicle doesn't make much sense. If it's only to be a people hauler stick to a volt with a small utility trailer hooked to the back. UNQUOTE

This is EXACTLY whats wrong with the ecoboost engine. May get good when your not towing but cant achieve even 8mpg with 8k behind it, that just defeats the purpose all together AND adds expense and complexity for little or no return.....

@hemi lol - I don't own an Ecoboost so I can't comment directly. However, a gas/electric hybrid is on the other side of the motor universe compared to a twin turbo V6. The Ecoboost is a mean hi-performance motor that just happens to get decent mpg under a light load. It has no compromises on performance. And though I can't provide any specific data off-hand, I seem to recall it getting similar towing mpg when compared to the 6.2L Ford and 6.2L Chevy motors. Unless i'm mistaken Toyota 5.7 and Hemi do have an advantage in towing mpg over Ecoboost and the others.

Electric F150 VS Electric Silverado shootout time!

I agree with some one about extended-range electric vehicle is not exactly bust for large trucks due how much batteries are need to get good range well towing. Smaller truck is better since it use more for utility and commuting than a large truck. how ever if you live in Texas you see there alot people who like big trucks and do buy them not to use for work but for show. They call air haulers. how ever electric drive does have advantages for trucks. large mining trucks use electric drive.

Man I could sneak up on some critters in this rig!

I would not rely on the power grid...

For once, well maybe twice, I have to agree with most of the commenter’s on here. the best application for load bearing vehicles (trucks, vans, heavy equipment) is an ICE running on a very fuel efficient cycle that is tuned to always bee in the "sweet spot" for power production and fuel economy and this power is used to make electricity for an electric motor since those will produce the needed torque from effectively 0 RPM to handle the load the most effectively.

The business with batteries only adds a layer of complexity for something that will get depleted quickly under load (towing) and only add one more layer of energy loss. This is why the Volt gets such terrible mileage when running on gas only. if there was no or a minimal battery and the power went from gas->ICE->generator->electric motor then the Volt would do well overall on average but would never be able to operate on battery alone. This is how heavy equipment and modern trains are run.

Once again we see that GM cant develop anything on their own. Isuzu duramax allison tranny.etc, RAm is the same aka ZF for the new 8-speed tranny. Only Ford and Toyo dev3lope theur own components!!!

Preliminary info they've given us is sketchy. They say we'll get more questions answered after press conference. My suspicion is like every other hybrid and full electric vehicle that's come to market, the original promises aren't quite what they end up being when they hit the real world. Experience tells us the first numbers they promote up front are optimum senario and quite dependent on driving cycles. Will be tracking down more info.

@mhowarth - I don't know about heavy equipment but modern Diesel/Electric trains have a different set of problems when it comes to getting good efficiency. The Diesel electric setup is used on trains because of how well it can manage and control wheel slip. Otherwise a straight Diesel powerplant would be more efficient.

Too much energy is wasted converting from dynamic to electric and then back.

@ toycrusher84

i'm going off of feeback from people that have towed with them as well as PUTC's loaded unloaded test of the 4x2's with 3.55 gears. the Tundra definitely has an advantage with that weight behind it as i have experienced it first hand. i'm sure the 2 6.2's out there (GM and Ford) will become more thirsty since they are older engine block tech (even though the Vortec makes good low end torque its still a thirsty motor). The Hemi probably suffers bad here as well since it doesnt make as good low end torque (Hemi's are made for higher RPM HP). I cant speak from personal experience here either. I could on old pushrod 350's and the 5.3 and the 5.3 suffers under a load something terrible and my old K-5 drinks the fuel like crazy load or no load LOL.

about freakin time.

GM kiss gov a### whocare about electric pick up

You can add that a mechanical gearbox to cope with that much torque would be huge.

@Mark Williams. Renault Trucks has come out with an all electric 16 tonne MDT truck. How it perfoms is also up to conjecture.


I like parts of this design better than the F150 Protean but I'm finding 100mpg difficult to swallow. Probably some averaging with the first 40 mile being pure battery and assuming something ridiculous like 2000mpg. Looks like they're using an old school 4.3L v6 as the generator motor.

They say $79,000 MSRP (assuming high volume). Fleet companies can save money on fuel and spend through the nose on the original price.

Unless US taxpayers come to the rescue, this thing is dead on arrival.

$79,000? Really. I have to agree with Ken. Only governments will buy this thing for that price.

You all are missing the boat. This is not intended for the average consumer - it is for fleets, and for the customer who is willing to pay for the luxury of using no gas for local driving. A huge amount of the 1/2 ton market.

Frankly $79,000 is not bad at all for a first generation E-truck, within two generations the system will likely be robust enough for heavy towing, with a significant increase in motor power, and increased electric range.

This means in 10-12 years we will probably have E-Rev trucks carrying a price premium over diesels similar to what a diesel carries over a gasser, with performance similar to a 4.0L diesel.

^ 3rd sentence should read "A huge amount of the 1/2 ton market does not tow often if ever."

Oh wow.

More details:

To those complaining about towing: they are claiming 300 kW (402 hp) from the electric motor.

They are definitely not using the GM Voltec system.

The engine is in fact stated to be the GM 4.3L pushrod V6!

Likely features of the system given this configuration:

- a Volt-like "Mountain mode" that pre-charges the batteries to max for a sustained climb
- a temporary power boost function from likely something like 200 hp continuous to 400 hp peak, like the new Cummins with the 350 hp -> 390 hp temporary overboost
- unless limited to protect motors of battery, towing capacity could be 5000 - 7000 lbs

And I quote:

"The 402 hp high-torque electric motor gives ample towing capacity."

Also note it retains stock payload capacity. So much for the naysayers.

Thus endeth the sermon ;)


Fleets only buy with sweetheart, discounted deals. They're sensitive to cost, quality, and reliability. There's too much uncertainty. You can imagine what type of issues this thing will have when worked hard.

So far there's no specs and that includes towing. "Ample towing" is subjective spin.


Instantaneous turbo boost changes are a night and day difference from pre-charging a battery. And I'd love hear how the generator knows when the next mountain is coming so the battery can be pre-boosted. :)

Why aren't they using a diesel for the generator? The v6 is rated 150 kw but the motor pulls 300 kw so once the batteries run down at 40 miles you are left with only half power. Not to mention the 4.3 builds peak power somewhere over 3000 rpm, can you imagine driving around town with the motor screaming non stop?

@Ken - agree with the fleet comments. Any fleets I know of buy lowest bid. Pure and simple. A fleet of plain jane V6 F150's or 4 banger Tacoma's would be more cost effective than this. For 79,000, a fully loaded HD diesel is more cost effective.

Here's more details on this trucks performance


i say drop the 4.3 and put a 5.3l engine that woud be nice i would mind buying one of these trucks to test it and then if i like it i would buy it for my company... but i would really want that 5.3l 4.3l is to weak for a 1/2 ton beast

This was nice invention

The science does make sense. Unless you can't add 2+2! Install wind generators (Small) to operate generator on top of the roof of any vehicle and drive fifty, sixty or seventy miles an hour down the road! These generators (alternators) can charge several sets of cell of batteries. This type of car could almost be perpetual and conserve fuel world wide!

By the way people, all motors are electrically powered. that is the reason they are called motors. Gasoline engines are in most vehicles.

Engines have reciprocating pistons, crank shaft, cam shaft and with valves for combustion and exhaust. It's called a engine! Not a frigging Motor.

I wish the NASCAR Drivers and Motor Head Shows People did have a motor in their car, when they say my motor was running real good. They could do 400 MPH around a track.

It's not a motor retard it's an Engine. Motors have armature, windings, magnets, a shaft turning on bearings and brushes to send the electricity.

By the way Ford, Chevy and Dodge, Toyota and anyother manufacturers of EV's , We know it is much more economical to produce electric cars and pickups then gasoline units.

The cost to produce any car is approximately $4,000.00 to $8,000.00 and you market them for $30,000.00 to $80,000.00.
What a markup. The consumer are literally being robbed every day. You guys got rid of all of the old cars or more commonly know as clunkers. Metal Prices should have fallen instead of skyrocketing.

Do us a favor and bring the prices back down to earth, and receive a fair markup or market value for your products! Stop being greedy, Gods of the metal machines and become human once again.

I think it's going to fail because it is neither one thing or another. it's an ill-thought-out hotch-potch of an idea to halfway electrically power a traditional pickup truck rather than think outside the box of where a much smaller, lighter utility vehicle would be useful. Its a shame because there is a big gap in the electric vehicle market but this isn't going to fill it.

Wish they would drop the political garbage and get serious.

Build a truck that runs on a strong electric motor only.
Ditch the P.C. eco-nut battery packs.
Install a diesel generator to power the motor(s) through a small battery that provides a buffer.

You run all your accesories on the diesel gen just like a conventional engine. When you start the truck the diesel fires up and runs constant with throttle varying in response to electrical drain.

No charging, no eco-nut B.S.
Just a truck that runs on diesel fuel and takes advantage of the qualities of electric motors for it's powertrain.

Stop catering to enviornmental whackos and you could actually build a pretty cool truck.

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