Of the various green car announcements which came from the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, perhaps one of the biggest came from a niche extended range plug-in hybrid maker with a big name as part of its leadership. Via Motors, with former GM big wig and self-proclaimed father of the Chevy Volt on board, showcased a range of vehicles designed for commercial use, though it is said consumer offerings are being planned as well.
Lutz, at the Detroit event, trotted out executives from the likes of California utility PG&E and communications giant Verizon, to help unveil for the first time Via Motors’ new line up of extended range trucks, SUVs and vans. For those who have been following the development of this green car start up, Lutz first tied up with them in late 2011, helping speed development of the company’s vehicle platform to where it is today, though Via for a bit has been working with its early customers to trial its technology.
It is said by Via Motors that all three of its extended range offerings “drive the first 40 miles in all-electric mode with near zero emissions, and a full range of 400 miles on a single fill-up. For most drivers, this means over 100 mpg in typical local daily driving.” They make use of a similar set up to the Volt, which is to say they combine electric vehicle tech with a self-contained gasoline generator that kicks in to recharge the batteries that power the electric motor.
What’s interesting to note is how PG&E and Verizon are to make use of the Via vehicles in their fleets. For the former, for example, the trucks it employs have a “15-kilowatt capacity, which is the equivalent of a generator for a small or medium house. A utility-grade output module, now in development, will provide 50 kW of mobile emergency power to keep critical facilities online.”
Verizon, like PG&E, is also aiming for improved fuel efficiency to help save money as well as cut carbon emissions. It was noted by Via that it “anticipates the Verizon electrified work vehicles should improve fleet fuel economy by up to 300 percent while cutting emissions in half or more.” The vehicles can be charged overnight from a typical 110-volt household outlet for reportedly as little as $1 a day in some states.
Besides its eREV (extended-range electric vehicle) lineup of full-size pickup trucks, cargo vans and SUVs, VIA also unveiled a concept vehicle at the show – the XTruck with two 402-horsepower electric motors.