Via Motors to Debut a Truck at L.A. Auto Show

VIA Motors Prod. II

Via Motors (pronounced VeeYah) is a unique company that converts GM vehicles into extended-range plug-in electric work trucks. Via has been around a few years and is carving out a niche in the alternative powertrain segment by partnering with GM. Via purchases full-size Chevrolet Silverado half-tons, Express vans and Suburban SUVs, replaces the GM factory powertrain with extended-range components and sells the trucks as electric vehicles, all of which are eligible for state and federal subsidies.

We've heard Via Motors will debut a new luxury concept truck at the Los Angeles Auto Show, but we're guessing that will be the Via Suburban SUV rather than a Via pickup truck. This could be interesting, especially if a non-fleet customer (like a big celebrity or two from Hollywood) were to get interested in this vehicle and start a whole new fashion trend: full-size eco-friendly movie-star luxury. Lord knows there are plenty of blinged-out Cadillac Escalade EXTs running around Southern California; why not something that large with fewer harmful emissions? No doubt that's what Via Motors is hoping for.

VIA Motors made a big splash at this year's Detroit Show back in January with the 800-horsepower X-TRUX that looked more like a Raptor-fighter than eco-vehicle so we know they an make a splash when they want to.

As to production, to make the GM partnership more economical, Via Motors recently opened a installation facility (maybe it should be called a repackaging facility) in Mexico, about 100 miles from GM's Silao plant, where it can take quick delivery of a vehicle, pull the existing powertrain, and install the new one. We're told Via can produce as many as two vehicles per hour. Eight different stations install different parts of the electric powertrain until the vehicle is ready to be loaded onto trains headed north to the U.S.

The trucks do use a small V-6 gas engine to power a generator that, in turn, is only used to power the onboard lithium-ion battery packs (but there is an option available that turns the truck into its own powerplant, complete with a series of 120-volt outlets). Those batteries operate a powerful electric motor that runs through a gear set (not a transmission) to rotate the driveshaft and axles (the trucks can be ordered in two- or four-wheel-drive configurations). The V-6 engine will only run at a constant, optimum rpm to produce the most energy for the generator so the life of the engine is likely to be much longer than a normal V-6 that would have a much more punishing existence.

The small startup company, based out of Orem, Utah, has been steadily signing contracts with national utility companies and is involved in several major federal and local research studies about the long-term costs and environmental impact of electric vehicles.

Stay tuned: We'll have more stories and videos this week from the auto show floor.

 

 

 

Comments

Maybe PUTC should so some real world performance tests once there are some available to test. I would be interested to see if they can do all the tasks normal trucks can. The article says it has a small v6, so I'm wondering, say you wanted to tow a boat or travel trailer 500 miles, would the small v6 be able to generate enough charge while doing that, and could it keep up with normal trucks?

I don't understand why they can't get a truck from the manufacturer without the unnecessary powertrain components. How much are buyers paying to remove parts that shouldn't have been there in the first place.

I don't think these will offer comparable range and capabilities to gas and diesel trucks... yet.

You know, it would be nice to see a Via truck vs a stock 2014 Silverado with the 5.3L. Take the most common powertrain in the donor truck and put it against its volt-head cousin. Do an over the road test, and light off-roading (no rock crawling, but you know just back-woods style driving).

The V6 gas engine approach (like the Volt) is pretty smart compared to the plugin hybrid. The gas engine only runs when needed to recharge the battery and the engine operates at its optimum RPM at all times (no full throttle, no idling). Clever.

Electric motors with their own onboard recharging make the most sense. Because the engine runs as a stationary motor gasoline's octane rating is more forgiving.

My favorite of the electric/gas designs.

This is destined for failure. They should have used the right truck but they chose not to. We ALL know what the best truck is.

GUTS
GLORY
ASS KICKING RAM

"The article says it has a small v6, so I'm wondering, say you wanted to tow a boat or travel trailer 500 miles, would the small v6 be able to generate enough charge while doing that, and could it keep up with normal trucks?"

The new V6's have over 300hp, my old F250 with a 460 is only rated for 230 and I have used it to haul up to 10,000lbs for a long time now. The V6 could even work to charge up the batteries for the next uphill run while a regular truck would be coasting down the hill. I don't think that horespower would be the issue with this concept.

oh wait!!!!! where is all the haters? its mexican built you dam sure cant buy one of these its not american!!!!!!!!! (in the most sarcastic voice i could drum up)

I bet it can't make it up the Ike Guanlet towing without a recharge.

From what Bob Lutz said a year ago on Jay Leno's Garage it will be a new model based on the Escalade.

I wonder what they do with the GM powertrain they remove from these trucks?

@Joey "I bet it can't make it up the Ike Guanlet towing without a recharge."

Try reading the article... It never has to recharge if you don't want to. It has a gas backup engine.

Also, this truck has the option to have a 240V power outlet as well, not just a bunch of 120V outlets. Not only did they show a guy using a welder that was plugged into the truck, but they also showed it recharging a Nissan Leaf.

If they wanted a concept truck, well here's a concept....

Instead of yet another luxury SUV that nobody can afford, how about a PHEV pickup that is sensible and affordable. I'm not talking crank up windows but if they could get the price down to upper 30's like the Volt, I'd be ready to sign on the line.

I don't need leather seats and touch screen distraction centers built in.

Wait,
I'll love high-tech modern engines. You aren't suggesting that a 300 hp V6 (non-boosted) could out-tow a big-block V-8 like a 460 or 454 are you?

@MaXx
That would be awesome, but I think we are still a couple years away. The current Via line is designed as a work truck, it doesn't include all the bells and whistles. The battery technology is still a bit too expensive to put it at a reasonable price range.

Building a luxury SUV allows them to target the wealthy and get higher margins in order to raise some capital. Once they have established the product and production, they can work on cost reductions to be able to target lower price points.

@Maxx

it may be awhile before the electric vehicle of any design can be had at the price of a Volt.

If you want to sell many thousands of PHEV pickups, the government will not be offering the kind of subsidy the Volt gets. If you can't sell that many trucks, the economics don't work. Catch 22

@hemi lol.

An American owned company is better than a foreign company built in America.

Ooooh, sucking a big taxpayer tit...mmm...Yummy!

How much dose this thing really cost ? What is the carbon foot print of the battries ??? I know in England they hate the Prius. hybrid because it has a bigger carbon foot print that a hummer H2 .

Excellent article. I have been following VIA Motors for quite some time now and it's exciting to see them in mass fleet production. I'd like to trade in my gas guzzling SUV for their 100mpg extended-range electric SUV!

A lot of the above comment-ers didn't even seem to read the article. Read the article, visit viamotors.com and then make your educated comments.

If the engine is performing much the same as a stationary genset engine, a diesel, even the 2.8 diesel would have been a better option.

They would have used a Ram but they realized the truck would be recalled too much. So they decided on the truck that will last longer and be cheaper to own because of the higher reliability record. That is why they chose a GM truck.

@hemi lol Sorry bout the first comment seems the 5 year old of PUC Frank is running wild on my name again or maybe his brothers All1 /Alex / Dave

If RAM is such an ass kicker, why does Ford continue to kick RAM's ass?

When will the DIY kit be available?

Man, that second video made me dizzy. WFT was the creator of that thinking?

Where to buy?



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