When Bob Lutz joined forces with hybrid conversion company Via Motors earlier this fall, we wrote that, "it's unclear exactly what kind of role Lutz will play in the company or what his duties will be." Turns out that at least one of his assignments will be to take to the stage at the Detroit Auto Show in January and officially introduce the "world's first Extended Range Electric Truck." As always, Lutz is bold in his choice of words, saying in a statement:

VIA Motors has developed the first extended range electric powertrain capable of replacing the V8 engine. It was my great privilege to introduce the Chevy Volt, and it will be a great honor to introduce the world's first line of eREV Trucks, Vans and SUVs by VIA Motors.

The eREV vehicles – all converted GM models, we believe; the truck above is a Silverado – can travel between 30 and 40 miles per charge and then burn gas in an onboard generator to go another 360 or so miles before needing to suck down some electrons and/or gasoline. All three models will be on display in Detroit and the pick-up is already avaiable to order. Via hopes to start production next year and hit an annual production target of 20,000 units (of all its models) "over the next few years."

Via Motors grew out of Raser Technologies. The company first made a name for itself by converting a Hummer H3 to a plug-in hybird. Via wants everyone to konw that its eREVs use "advanced, non-flammable, lithium ion batteries," which we imagine may have been somewhat uncomfortable to discuss with Lutz in the room. Or not. You can see an at-ease Lutz talking about the Via Motors eREV truck after the jump.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      I was lucky enough to test drive this truck at the HTUF ride and drive in Washington D.C. I was VERY impressed! We put it into 4WD in some dirt and it had huge torque! It drove all morning without needing to burn a drove of gas! The guy said that it would go 40 miles on batteries then up to 400 miles using the generator. I use power tools everyday at work and really liked the contractor grade power plugs right on the truck for tools. I spend about $500 a month on gas and it keeps going up. IF this does drive for $2 bucks a day on a charge... I know where I can spend that money... buying a Kick *ss American Electric truck!
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Soooooooo, a truck that uses gasoline as an energy source and goes 360 miles on a tank? Try not to yell or call me names, but what am I missing here?
        Chris M
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        It uses Gasoline and Electricity as an energy source, that makes it a Plug-in Hybrid. Since it can cover most daily drives using only electricity, the gasoline consumption should be very low, and the cost of "driving electric" is much less than driving on gasoline. But it can still go longer distances on gasoline if needed. The big bonus is that it can provide AC electric power for remote sites, great for contractors and RVers and campers.
        Dave
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        a compelling reason to buy it
      jpadow
      • 3 Years Ago
      I was always a fan of Bub Lutz. he's way more down-to-earth and informal than his brother Bob.
      JP
      • 3 Years Ago
      Electric vehicle? EREV? It's a hybrid, stop trying to pretend it's an EV!
        brettlmt
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        JP, for those of us and all the people at VIA Motors who don't know the difference between a hybrid and an EREV, could you please tell us.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          @brettlmt
          EREV (Extended Range Electric Vehicle) was originally devised as a marketing tern to confuse people into thinking a plug-in hybrid vehicle is really just an electric vehicle that goes further than other EVs. Nowdays, EREV is usually defined as a plug-in hybrid that can run at freeway speeds for many miles on battery power only. Think of it as a sub-category of plug-in hybrids.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        I am still smiling at the idea of a gasoline powered electric vehicle that has the same range of the gas model. A gasoline powered electric vehicle.... :D
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bub Lutz, say that 3 times fast. Hilarious!!
      skierpage
      • 3 Years Ago
      It seems a good design for a pure serial plug-in hybrid, http://www.viamotors.com/powertrain/ They just have to reduce the cost. But, this thing is also a 150 kW jobsite generator. A quick Google search found http://www.jobsite-generators.com offering one at $69,356, and it's ten feet long!! Hence "Some fleet customers say that with VIA’s E-REV work trucks, its almost like getting a free truck with their mobile generator!" Those worksite generators are so expensive, people with hybrids should rent their cars out to construction sites ;-)
        Dave
        • 3 Years Ago
        @skierpage
        Good point, but shopping around will get you a 150kw generator for much less than $69,000. This mobile 150kw DIESEL generator costs $34,999: http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-Mobile-Generator-Set-Model/dp/B000N4ZVAC And if it had a light duty GASOLINE engine like the Via, it would probably cost $10,000 less.
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          So, I'd buy the 18mpg Silverado XFE crew cab for $32,000 and the diesel generator for $35,000. I'd be able to use both at the same time. And I'd still have $10,000 left over compared to buying the Via.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @skierpage
        That's a very practical point!
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bob Lutz is the ultimate flip-flopper.
      Rick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Please, please bring the fantastic hybrid Silverado to Chevy UK Bob (If possible don't do it in half measures make it RHD - l know we are a pain on in the arse drive on the wrong side) , then you have certainly got me hooked on Chevy. This will be a groundbreaker and will be another first for GM, fuel prices are so expensive here in the UK, and North Sea oil is nearly almost depleted here now. Most British builders don't do a lot more than 20 mile commutes so it would mean you could drive on very cheap electric power most of the time which would be a very big plus for me personally. I and many others would buy a Silverado hybrid from Chevy UK today if we only got given the chance it's so much better than a UK Aveo for carrying around your plant machinery. Great to see Chevy bring something that is going to be a really big game changer to the market place, l just hope we get to see the hybrid Silverado and pick-up a very nice piece of American Pie to buy in the UK. This really really will be a big hit for GM and will make GM great again, well done Bob l hope it will be a massive hit for GM.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Meh. I love the idea of PHEV trucks. But I just don't think these niche manufacturers can every get the scale for them to economically practical. Although I think he was wasteful himself, I think the words from that Ford exec that tried to run Th!nk for a while brought up good points . . . you just can't compete with the big majors as a tiny niche manufacturer.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Many of these tech firms begin conversion companies in the hopes that the major automakers will eventually buy their sub-systems, so the automakers can achieve the economy of scale while the tech firm goes back to focusing on just making their sub-systems.
          Nick
          • 3 Years Ago
          Some automakers prefer to make things in-house tho. But yeah, I think that's what it is...they're hoping for supply contracts.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          Interesting. I could see that happening.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      Trucks this size should be the poster children for natural gas or hydrogen. The cost of the battery pack and genset for this vehicle will be ridiculous. REEVs might make sense for commuter vehicles that occasionally make long trips also. If you're using a vehicle like this to commute, you've bought the wrong vehicle. Contractors use these vehicles to carry heavy loads of tools and supplies to wherever the job may be.
        Dave
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Of course, if you have the money and you want one, as always, I say go for it.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Natural gas is a good idea. But REEVs can make sense for these too. Yes, you'll need bigger batteries for them . . . but their gas versions also burn up larger amounts of gasoline so you'll be seeing larger fuel savings to pay for those larger batteries. I doubt such vehicles drive much distance per day such that REEVs make sense. You drive to the job site, you maybe make a home depot run, etc. As long as you charge up every night, most of your driving will be electric and that can save a huge amount of money on fuel. But as I point out above . . . my worry is that they won't have the manufacturing scale to make these cheap enough.
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Every pound of battery you add is a pound of payload you lose. And every pound of battery added means worse gas mileage while running on generator. REEVs just don't make sense for work trucks that are going to see real useage.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          "Except the difference is this truck is coming out to market next year. While the HFCVs are just talk and some demonstration fleets at this point. And there is no HFCV pickup planned for production even in 2015." So it seems - the Quantum Ford F-Drive PHEV is also coming to market next year - so that will make two PHEV pick-ups! I don't see how it conflicts with my statement: "...the large automakers - that Spec above commented the little niche guys can't compete with - have decided to focus on HFCV for larger cars and trucks/SUVs." Show me a large automaker that is planning a BEV large car or truck/SUV, and then you might make me reconsider my statement.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          "I suspect these guys have and they concluded it was worth doing." To be fair, it's the same argument used to defend HFCVs! Of course, the large automakers - that Spec above commented the little niche guys can't compete with - have decided to focus on HFCV for larger cars and trucks/SUVs. The large automakers have "run the numbers" and decided which segments should be BEV, and which segments need something else...
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          As I understand it, they aren't building this from the ground up. They take a new truck and simply add the electric power train. Sounds doable. No doubt it it does sell, one of the big three will pick up the technology.
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          "I suspect these guys have and they concluded it was worth doing." lol
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Have you run the numbers? I suspect these guys have and they concluded it was worth doing. Tesla doesn't seem to mind cramming 85KWH of Li-Ions into a passenger car, so I'm sure a truck can handle it. And the batteries allow a smaller gas engine to be used. People are building huge passenger buses with batteries . . .if they can do that, a pick-up is a cinch.
          JakeY
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @Dave "Every pound of battery you add is a pound of payload you lose." That's true. But the REEV design minimizes the amount of batteries on the truck (only 16kWh at this point, same as the Volt and iMIEV, which can handle it no problem). It's going to be comparable in weight to a HFCV system because of fuel cell weight (which still weigh in at a couple hundred pounds, esp. for one that has the average power capable of handling towing) and the required buffer batteries to output enough peak power. For example the past demonstration Hydrogen Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab (hydrogen version of the 2006 1500HD 4WD Standard Box), was 7500lbs, adding 1762lbs to the standard 5762lb model. The battery pack here will add much less than that (probably about 500lbs). http://editorial.autos.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=435410 "And every pound of battery added means worse gas mileage while running on generator." Not true with regen. And like PR and other PHEV advocates say, the generator mileage is not going to be the main factor in determining lifetime mileage. @Letstakeawalk "To be fair, it's the same argument used to defend HFCVs! Of course, the large automakers - that Spec above commented the little niche guys can't compete with - have decided to focus on HFCV for larger cars and trucks/SUVs. The large automakers have "run the numbers" and decided which segments should be BEV, and which segments need something else..." Except the difference is this truck is coming out to market next year. While the HFCVs are just talk and some demonstration fleets at this point. And there is no HFCV pickup planned for production even in 2015.
          JakeY
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          "Show me a large automaker that is planning a BEV large car or truck/SUV, and then you might make me reconsider my statement." Google "electric pickup truck", you'll find a lot of hits. But this is kind of OT, since SPEC was talking about REEV trucks (he never mentioned he was talking about a BEV truck), which Dave said was not feasible compared to HFCV pickup trucks. I'm arguing REEV trucks are a lot more feasible than Dave is suggesting; I'm not really making any comment on the feasibility of a BEV truck.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          "Google "electric pickup truck", you'll find a lot of hits." Those aren't major automakers. Indeed, they're all conversions. My point exactly. I know you're not trying to say the automakers are planning large platform BEVs, because so far they're not. "I'm arguing REEV trucks are a lot more feasible than Dave is suggesting; I'm not really making any comment on the feasibility of a BEV truck." Fair enough, I also think EVER trucks are feasible - and pointed out a different PHEV conversion by Quantum. My comment was about the phrasing of the argument, "I suspect these guys have and they concluded it was worth doing." with *these guys* referring to the aftermarket conversion people. I do agree with that comment. What I pointed out was that HFCV supporters make the same comment, because nine major automakers are all planning to commercialize HFCVs. Obviously, they have run the numbers and concluded that HFCVs are worth doing. JakeY, I'm not even sure why you responded to my comment, except to try to argue about HFCVs, which you don't seem to think are viable.
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      What is the size of the gasoline electrical generator. Many should be interrested to buy.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good to see the old petrolhead turned it around.
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