Via Motors says its extended-range plug-in trucks can provide power generation for something a little more essential than a tailgate party or a camping trip. The company, which notably has former General Motors executive Bob Lutz as a pitchman, showed off one of its VTRUX pickups at San Francisco's Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative event sponsored by PG&E late last month and said the truck could double as an emergency power generator, Plug In Cars reports.

The VTRUX is based on the Chevrolet Silverado and was displayed at the event alongside models such as the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid and a Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in. The big truck has some options those don't, though, like 120- and 240-volt power outlets that can be used by workmen. With its 300-kilowatt motor and a 150-kilowatt generator, the VTRUX can also serve as an temporary emergency power source, even for utility companies looking to get darkened neighborhoods back up and running.

Via first showed off its pickup (and SUV and van models with similar powertrains) at the Detroit Auto Show in early 2012, and added its heavier-duty XTRUX line earlier this year. At the time, Lutz said the beasts could achieve fuel efficiency levels of more than 100 miles per gallon.


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  • 43 Comments
      Ryan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Where did they put a 150 kW generator in that? That could power a whole factory of workmen... They would have done better building a smaller pickup truck with only a normal battery if they were trying to sell to normal people.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ryan
        VIA Motors focuses on large fleet buyers like Pacific Gas & Electric, Verizon, Google, Apple, etc... The market is huge and fleet buyers understand the cost to gas savings ratio, in addition to the advantage of having remote power to run power tools, use during emergencies and even power your home during an outage.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ryan
        The Fisker Karma had its 150kW generator placed behind and in line with the ICE. This sketch labels it as 175kW, but I don't think that's what actually went in... http://www.rokemneedlearts.com/carsindepth/wordpressblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Fisker-Karma-technical-cutaway.jpg The Via truck uses a similar EREV layout, with their generator attached directly to the ICE. http://lh6.ggpht.com/-kgBW0Twc7iY/TxB4Fm4DZwI/AAAAAAAAMFI/HYOv8M46pDk/ViaMotors_cutaways.jpg?imgmax=800
      Ryan
      • 1 Year Ago
      http://w.mawebcenters.com/static/ecommerce/110/110052/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/g/e/generator-rental-long-island-mmd-125kw.jpg Here is a picture of a 150KW generator. They aren't light or small. http://www.sunbeltrentals.com/equipment/equipment.aspx?itemid=0090120&catid=s391 Here are some specs on a diesel one. First, they cost $50,000+, second, they use 11.4 gallons per hour at full load, and third, they have large fuel tanks (300 gallons). And since 1 gallon of diesel is equal to 40.7 kWh, it burns 463 kWh of diesel to make 150 kWh of power (if it runs for one hour at full load) Now, trucks this size can have a decent size fuel tank, plus it looks like they have a reserve tank in the bed. But did VIA figure out how to generate power for efficiently? And why does it need 300 kW to power the truck? Maybe that is in an extreme case of towing a big RV, with a full tank of fuel, going 120 mph... If it was traveling 60 miles per hour, it would use 5 kWh or 5,000Wh to go 1 mile. With the conventional wisdom that it takes 1Wh to move 10 lbs of vehicle 1 mile... That would move a 50,000 lbs or about 25 ton truck at 60 mph. A little overkill for a first model I think. Unless they did some real market research and found that anything less wouldn't work. But I don't see it.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ryan
        Yeah, I wonder if that is a misprint. 150KW sounds way too big. Maybe it is 15KW.
          Ryan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          15kW might be just a tad small, at least for driving 75 mph down the highway for hours at a time in this heavy and not so aerodynamic vehicle. I would need a 15kW generator and a 15kW charger (assuming no losses) to use 250Wh per mile at 60mph in a 2,500 lbs small pick-up. I would think that a 50 kW generator would be the right size for this type of truck.
          mustang_sallad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          The 150kW generator is cause its a series hybrid.
          mustang_sallad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          No - 150kw is the range extender thAt powers the vehicle when the battery is depleted. 15kW is the export power.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          150kW is what it is. 15kw would be tiny.
      Jesse Gurr
      • 1 Year Ago
      What kind of cable will they be using to provide this 150 KW of power from a 240 Volt source truck? That would be about 625 amps at 240 Volts.
        mustang_sallad
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jesse Gurr
        It's just 15kW at 240V, 150kW is the range extender
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jesse Gurr
        Probably a high voltage converter from the battery source to the generator. Higher voltage, fewer amps. So the conductor can be thinner while the insulators thicker. Then down converted back down to several 240V outlets, but each limited in current.
          Jesse Gurr
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I don't know if I was clear or not. But I am saying that the truck only has a 240 Volt outlet, so how can the truck power a whole neighborhood from that truck? If they were to use the full 150 kW from the generator to power those houses it would be drawing 625 amps out of the truck to a transformer or whatever connection they are planning to use. I guess if they used only 15 kW from the truck that would make more sense as that would only pull 62.5 amps from the truck. But at 15 kW, and assuming each house pulls 1 kW(not likely) then they would be able to power 15 houses. I guess that would be a small neighborhood.
          Jesse Gurr
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Oh I just found out that it is 50 kW of exportable power. http://www.viamotors.com/wp-content/uploads/VIA-Motors-Brochure-50-web.pdf Only for the utility grade inverter option that is still in development. 15 kW Standard
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jesse Gurr
        Yeah, makes sense now. An engine can produce 15kw cruising at 60 mph. But can only reach 150kw if peaked at red line
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          150kW is 200hp. GM's 5.3l V8 hits that number at around 3000 rpm. http://blogs.cars.com/.a/6a00d83451b3c669e2017c38424a95970b-800wi
      GR
      • 1 Year Ago
      Something like this could prove to be a big seller in places that are known for having a lot of natural disasters (Northeast, Tornado Alley, etc.). Wasn't there a story just after Hurricane Sandy about some EVs that were still running/being used as generators when all of the power went out and the local gas stations had to shut down?
        gpmp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GR
        And not just where there are frequent natural disasters. Think about areas with regular (even not so regular) power outages regardless of the reason. Remember the power outage of 2003? 55 million people affected. Where I live we can expect storm related outages every year. A vehicle like this would come in very handy.
      Giza Plateau
      • 1 Year Ago
      Seeing as people who drive oversized pickups like that are ignorant nitwits, is there really going to be a lot of them knowledgeable enough to be into electric cars. How big is that market.. Via bankruptcy.
      FCWT
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sooner or later, fossil fuel replacements will be the predominant energy sources for vehicles. I think this is a step in the right direction. If nothing else, it at least expands the options consumers have for their vehicles. Just because fossil fuels are diminishing, doesn't mean that trucks have to go away altogether. First Choice Wheels and Tires - firstchoicewheelsandtires.com - cyberrims.com
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      GM should just create a Voltec based pick-up already.
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        GM has no reason to do anything to their PU's. They are the best selling vehicle they have, consumers are not demanding anything different so GM will continue with the stagnate technology until the customers demand more.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Yes, I understand that the 2 mode hybrid system does increase fuel economy... but if it cannot be made cheaply enough... then the fuel savings DO NOT make up for the initial price premium over non hybrid models. Which is what I fear for VIA. I wish them the best of luck.. but I think it is too early in the EV revolution to have costs low enough to give consumers a reasonable ROI.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Basically VIA needs to be able to sell a PHEV pickup truck for the price of an equivalent gasoline or diesel model....plus the average cost fuel over the next 5 years, plus maybe a couple thousand extra... but that is it. At $80k.... this won't sell. People who buy work trucks cannot justify a premium like a tesla, bmw, MB, etc... buyer could
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Yeah, the 2 mode hybrid system, which was reactionary to the prius. GM saw how popular the buzz word " hybrid" had become, and tried to get some of that. It was the 2 mode system that gave the word" hybrid" a bad name. So many talking heads used those as examples of why hybrids were all hype and not useful.
          otiswild
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          And this is why GM isn't Tesla, or Apple. You don't pass the puck to where the other guy is, you pass it to where he's going to be.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Yeah, you have a good point actually. The current trucks are quite profitable. If they build a Voltec truck, it won't be profitable. So why build an unprofitable vehicle that may steal marketshare from your profitable vehicle line? I guess answer is that their competition will eventually do it.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          I'd like to point out to Joeviocoe and Spec that GM has already entered the hybrid electric truck market pool, something that neither Ford nor Dodge have done. Indeed, the market didn't work out so well, due to the additional cost of the Two-Mode Hybrid system. GM, as well as other truck makers, has realized that a more efficient ICE gets better mpg gains, at a lower cost, which is more in line with what truck buyers really want.
          Technoir
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          EVSUPERHERO Maybe, but consider that fleet owners are buying hundreds of electric trucks (UPS, FedEx..) and gradually buying more for the savings they bring over time. There must be fleet operators who would be interested in an EV-hybrid truck out there.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          A 30% improvement in city fuel economy was pretty useful. The system was too heavy, and cost too much, being a first-gen system. The heavy-duty variant (used by Allison in hybrid buses) did quite well. It was quite highly regarded by people who knew what they were talking about, including Toyota. "General Motors' Two-Mode hybrid system is the most significant gasoline-electric propulsion advancement since the original Toyota Prius. Chevrolet Tahoes and GMC Yukons equipped with this technology can achieve 20 mpg or more, which is equivalent to that of a four-cylinder mid-size sedan in city driving." http://www.automobilemag.com/features/awards/0802_gm_two_mode_hybrid_technology_of_the_year/viewall.html#ixzz2bcgpcNBI "This system has caught the eye of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada; it awarded GM the title of Best New Green Technology for the Two-Mode Hybrid system at this year's Montreal auto show." http://autos.ca.msn.com/specials/green-driving-guide/article.aspx?cp-documentid=19289081 Green Car of the Year (given by Green Car Journal): "And the winner is....The 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Two-Mode Hybrid!" http://green.autoblog.com/2007/11/15/la-2007-live-blogging-the-green-car-of-the-year-award/
      Randy Bryan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Via is not likely to try to produce 150kw from their 150kw generator... The inverter would cost over 1/4 as much as the truck. and require half the bed. Then there is at least 400kw of heat to dissipate [20-25% efficiency] while standing still... No, I would guess 20-40kw of AC power, and that would be quite impressive. Incidentally, the 20kw generator on the Prius can deliver 3-4kw of power while in park. Google Prius as generator. And 150kw for the generator sounds about right, as does 300kw for the traction motor. I am sure they do have inclines and towing loads in mind, as well as a little showmanship for the ICE-truck crowd. Sounds like an awesome machine. I wish Via Motors well.
        Jesse Gurr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Randy Bryan
        It will be 50 kW of exportable power from the truck. http://www.viamotors.com/wp-content/uploads/VIA-Motors-Brochure-50-web.pdf Only for the utility grade inverter option that is still in development which will hopefully include a higher voltage outlet than 240 Volts. It is 15 kW Standard as it is now.
      ddmast
      • 1 Year Ago
      Contractors and farmers yes, the rest of us don't need a truck
      chambo622
      • 1 Year Ago
      Next generation trucks are already out (or coming out, in the case of the SUVs) and these aren't even to market yet. Nice timing Lutz.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chambo622
        VIA focuses on fleet sales, not sales to the general public.
        chambo622
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chambo622
        Well actually according to the website they are "currently delivering fleet vehicles" but no consumer sales (I haven't seen any in SoCal). Seriuosly though, if that plug-in Suburban isn't too insanely expensive, it's a good option, seeing as GM doesn't make a Hybrid Suburban and I'm willing to bet the Hybrid Tahoe gets dropped next generation.
          mustang_sallad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chambo622
          If you've ever looked at their website, you'd see that their sales pitch is all about this thing having an instantaneous ROI of you lease it (as most fleets do) and if you incorporate running costs, depending on your usage scenario. I'm not saying the cost isn't an issue, just saying that VIA knows this and is addressing it in the best way possible.
          Jesse Gurr
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chambo622
          The truck starts at $79,000 so the suburban is probably more than that. Actually not as pricey as I thought it would be but still pretty expensive. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/01/13/via-motors-introduces-plug-in-work-vehicles/
          mustang_sallad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chambo622
          Go to their website and try out their savings calculator: http://www.viamotors.com/vtrux/calculator/
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chambo622
          So many people, including myself, are excited for a PHEV truck... but the reason that this will NOT sell very well at this time... is because it is too soon. The EV/PHEV revolution is still an infant. Which means high costs will need to be justified by luxury and/or performance. If not, then the automaker must take a huge loss and/or produce high volumes for the first few years like Nissan. For a Work vehicle like this, customers have ZERO tolerance for any premium that will not be recouped within an reasonable ROI period. These customers won't pay more for brand image, 0-60 performance, or styling... they will NEED to make back the premium with fuel savings. For this, they will not. A PHEV truck is inevitable... but they MUST drop costs first! And for that, they need preceding generations that will be sold in other segments.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chambo622
          Thanks for the link... as expected, VIA makes some assumptions that are not obvious and ultimately the key to savings. Not fuel prices, or electricity prices averaged over time... that would be under scrutiny. But an assumption that a work truck will drive 20,000 miles per year, and idle 20% of the time. They add a caveat that the EPA doesn't account for rush hour idling and sitting in a parked car running climate control. But if this work truck is for city driving, it would not likely have so many annual miles. 80 miles per day is a lot... and not likely to spend 20% idling. Changing either, brings the savings... to a net loss. Also, the calculator assumes an 8 year lease? ? ?
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chambo622
          What's the lowest possible lease cost per month?
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      GM doesn't know what consumers are demanding. They have been reactionary for decades. They were forced too acknowledge the demands for an EV .... and they crushed them citing low demand.. but that was bs too. Now tesla chokes along, and got their attention.
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