Double Duty Trucks from Via Motors
Via Motors has been around for several years now and is not unfamiliar with the idea of series hybrid electric vehicle. But rather than making a Chevy Volt, they’re making a Chevy Volt-like Truck.
Using the Chevy Silverado, Suburban, and Express Van models, they’ve swapped out the drive train with two electric motors and a slightly smaller gas engine. But even though it may look like a Chevy truck, underneath, it’s a whole other story.
Via Motors trucks have about 20 kWh of batteries and an power interface that is the electric equivalent of toting a gas station around. On the side of each vehicle are several power ports. There’s a level 2, 240 volt 30 amp plug, a 120 volt, 15 amp plug, and a few switches for control. Plus, if the battery runs out, the gas engine can be turned on for additional power.
These trucks pull double duty by offering both electric and gas modes. Where the gas engine is never connected to the drive train, it can be used to generate power, which in turn can used to drive the wheels. But if you are looking to drive electric most of the time, the 20 kWh pack should be fine for up to 40 miles. After that the gas generator comes on to provide roughly 30 MPG. The gas tank is the same as you would find any of the regular gas models.
You may think that you need a Nissan Leaf for your electric and then a Suburban or Silverado for longer trips, but with Via Motors VTrux, you get both in one. Plus the mileage after the battery has run out, is roughly double that of the gas-only models.
The current price of the Via Motors VTrux is not practical for comparison to the normal use of a truck by most consumers. And I am pretty sure that Via Motors people know this. Even if you were to buy the most expensive hybrid Silverado and drive it 15,000 miles per year, the cost savings of a VTrux would be negative $10,000.
However, when your average annual mileage crosses over 25,000, then you start to see why the VTrux is a good idea. Hopefully, after some of the early adopters have made their purchases, we will see the price come down to something more reasonable.
Mark Burdge of Via Motors gives the whole idea in one simple explanation in the video below. Thanks to The Fast Lane Car for the video.