No official EPA numbers have been released, but Via says its vehicles will get "over 100 mpg in typical local daily driving." As Bob Lutz puts it, "Wouldn't it be great if someone built a truck that drives like the Volt?" It's got lots of power, too. The standard Via powertrain used by each of its vehicles includes a 402 horsepower electric motor. The X-Truck has two of them.
To supplement the 24-kWh, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, Via's vehicles use a gas engine as a generator. In the case of the X-Truck, that means a 5.3-liter V8 from GM. The previously planned V6 generator was scrapped, in part because of availability and in part because the V8 is actually more efficient in this situation because the V6 would have to be worked harder, George Prokos, the service/warranty manager of field operations at Via, told AutoblogGreen.
Via vehicles get around 35 miles of all-electric range. When the battery is depleted to 20 percent state-of-charge, the generator kicks on to both provide traction and charge up the pack. When the battery is back up to 25 percent, the generator turns off. "The only way you can tell [the engine turns on or off] is by watching the iPad," Prokos said.
Via vehicles get around 35 miles of all-electric range.
Via also talked a bit more about its relationships with Pacific Gas & Electric and Verizon, both of which are using Via vehicles in their fleets. PG&E said in a statement that the Via trucks and vans, which have an optional onboard inverter to provide 110- and 240-volt power, "offer PG&E the potential to provide mobile, on-site power to help manage electric outages and minimize disruptions for customers." Via and PG&E have been working together since 2008.
Prokos said the vehicles unveiled in Detroit point to a new consumer direction for the company, since both the X-Truck and the Presidential (a converted Suburban) might one day be sold to regular folks who desire a big PHEV. You know, like Bob Lutz. "As far as I know, no one else has a four-wheel drive, jacked-up plug-in truck," he said. "The idea is to give the consumer something a little different than the other extended-range vehicles that are out there."
Vehicles Have Potential to Transform the Way PG&E Manages Electric Outages
DETROIT, Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- One year after introducing the first extended-range electric pickup truck for utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and VIA Motors today showcased the utility industry's first extended-range electric sport utility vehicles and cargo vans. Both offer PG&E the potential to provide mobile, on-site power to help manage electric outages and minimize disruptions for customers.
These Extended-Range Electric Vehicles, or eREVs, currently feature 15-kilowatts (kW) of power capacity, enough to serve the needs of a medium-sized house. A utility-grade output module, now in development, will provide 50 kW of mobile emergency power to keep critical facilities online.
"VIA's new vehicles have the potential to transform the way we at PG&E manage electrical outages, and to help us provide safer, more reliable service for our customers," said PG&E Senior Vice President Greg Pruett . "We're excited about our ongoing work with VIA Motors as we develop new and innovative ways to green our utility fleet."
In 2008, PG&E partnered with VIA Motors to develop the first eREV pickup truck. The two companies unveiled the trucks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2012.
"VIA's partnership with PG&E, and the introduction of the world's first extended-range electric work trucks, SUVs, and cargo vans in their fleet, marks a turning point in the electrification of the industry's fleets," said VIA Motors Board of Directors Member Bob Lutz. "As the world becomes more aware of the economic advantages of this ultra-clean technology, I am convinced that this type of electric vehicle will become very popular with consumers as well, and will help end our dependence on oil. It's good for business, good for the environment and good for America."
The eREV models run the first 40 miles on batteries, then continue to drive on electricity generated from an onboard gas-electric generator for 400 miles or more. By driving primarily on electricity, the vehicles can more than double gas fuel economy and achieve zero emissions on 50 percent of the miles driven on typical fleet routes. For electric utilities, the electrified vehicles can provide on-site power to help shorten small outages, eliminate some planned outages for maintenance, and boost the electric grid when needed.
PG&E is committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by greening its fleet. Since 1995, PG&E's alternative-fuel vehicles have helped prevent more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The utility has more than 3,100 alternative-fuel vehicles in its fleet, ranging from natural-gas, hybrid and electric passenger cars to large trucks that burn natural gas or have the ability to provide needed power from battery packs instead of idling engines. PG&E is testing and validating other promising transportation technologies, including liquid and compressed natural gas and diesel-electric hybrids.
VIA Motors is a privately held electric vehicle development and manufacturing company. VIA has developed a proprietary 650-volt eREV drive system technology, called the VIA V-Drive™, designed for full-size trucks and SUVs. VIA employs a streamlined second-stage manufacturing process, called VTRUX™, to integrate its proprietary eREV powertrain technology into new OEM vehicles. More information on VIA Motors may be found at http://www.viamotors.com.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/ and www.pgecurrents.com.