Pulling Double Duty: Via Motors Hybrid Trucks (w/ Video)

Double Duty with Via Motors

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.

On-Board Generator

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.

Double Duty

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.

GM Cuts Price Of The Volt To Stay Competitive

At least GM isn’t cutting functionality out of the Chevy Volt, despite cutting $5,000 from its price. It’s somewhat disappointing that it took this long for GM to realize that the $40,000 price tag was a bit more costly than other electric vehicles on the road.  The Volt isn’t all-electric, despite being billed as such, it has an internal combustion engine that can be used to recharge the batteries.  But it is still possible to drive the Volt as all-electric, and some people have done just that, never using the gasoline engine.

Nissan cut $6,400 from the price of the 2013 Leaf in December 2012, knocking the price down to just under $29,000.  Although the Volt is still not sub-$30k, it might stand to reason that it be a slight bit more expensive if for nothing more than because of the on-board generator.  The Volt is a large sedan, likely capable of running on gasoline alone, but it’s still $6,300 more than the starting price of the Nissan Leaf.

Unlike the ideals of EP Tender and eBuggy that would allow a pure electric vehicle to travel longer distances, the trailer is incorporated into the Volt. It may not be merely the opinion of the automobile engineers that an external add-on trailer is not as desirable for a vehicle.   The added weight of the internal combustion engine only detracts from the potential efficiency of the electric driving mode.

For now the Chevy Volt is still a decent compromise between an EV and an internal combustion-only vehicle. And maybe still good enough at $35,000 to lure some of the skeptics and range-anxietists away from oil.

Chrysler PHEV Town and Country Minivan

Well hello there, hybrid, electric, plug-in minivan, fancy meeting you (at all?).  With all the electrification of vehicles, why are most of them sedans and hatchbacks, but so few larger vehicles? If you don’t count the Ford C-max or Rav4 EV redux, the only other option is the Chrysler PHEV Town and Country Minivan.

Who knew, right?  After all, if you are aware of any hybrid plug-ins they’re most likely made by Toyota or Ford.  Actually, considering Ford’s record in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, it’s surprising that they’ve jumped on-board the alternative fuels bandwagon.  If anyone is going to make a comeback with a large plug-in hybrid, it is likely to be Chrysler?  Well it is Chrysler, so settle down.

This baby will allow you do most of your daily around-town travel on electricity, but can still go the distance, upwards of 700 miles on gas.  And because it’s a plug-in, you need only connect it to a charger at home to continue the clean, cheap electric miles.  The on-board battery isn’t huge at 12 kWh.  And as it is a hybrid you can expect the impressive MPG rating which Chrysler is listing in the range of 30 to 40.

If there’s one vehicle that families may actually consider, with its spacious capacity and car-like driving, the PHEV T&C may actually be it.  It’s no SUV, but we still do not have an SUV that’s yet affordable and in mass production (Via Motors).

Hail the possible return of the Minivan!

News Release from Chrysler

The 261-MPG Car is Real

261-MPG Car

It is now a real possibility to be able to drive a 2-seat, futuristic commuter vehicle that gets an amazing 261 MPG.  Volkswagen is actually producing this wonder-car for use in Germany and Austria.  Only the select few will be allowed to lease this beauty for a trial period.

Sadly, it is unlikely that it will ever be sold in the US.  Ironically, in the face of the very components of this car is the exact reason for the lack of it’s appearance in the US.  The VW XL1 is a diesel plugin-electric hybrid, combining the best of both motor-types into a fuel-sipping unicorn of the ages.   But American’s are not known to be enthusiastic either for diesel engines, or the stereo-typically diminutive sizing of European vehicles.

Although the batteries will only power the vehicle a mere 30 miles, the efficiency of the car will propel it further than the width of its country of origin on less than 1 gallon of fuel.  It is reasonable to think that since Fiat and Mini have managed to make entry into the American market, that there may be a portal for the XL1.

But I won’t hold my breath…

This post is brought to you by PlugInCars:

The Biggest Plug-in vehicle on the block: X-Truck

Biggest Plug-in vehicle

This is no Prius, but the concept is nearly identical.  Via has been cooperating with GM for many years now offering the Suburban, Tahoe, Silverado, and Hummer H3 vehicles as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.  No doubt the price is steep, but no more so than you might expect from emerging technologies.  If these vehicles were in normal production like their predecessors, they too would be comparably priced.

There is a stark advantage to purchasing one of these monster trucks, presuming of course that you have a need for a large vehicle.  Many people use SUVs and Trucks daily for work and play, but the majority of that daily travel does not exceed 35 miles.  In such cases the truck will never use gasoline.  But in the situations where longer distance is required, the on-board V8 generator will take over.

Diesel locomotives have a very similar format, a large Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) generates electricity which is transferred to an electric motor at the wheels.  The ICE is most efficient at the optimum Revolutions Per Minute (RPM).  Electric motors are efficient at all speeds, from zero up. If it can work for trains, why not for cars and trucks?

Large trucks like locomotives use and need massive amounts of low-speed torque.  Electric motors have just that, massive amounts of torque at all speeds (this is also why electric vehicles often beat ICE vehicles off the line in races).

Over a long haul, the owner of the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) will see many advantages over the traditional ICE. Examples include…

  • Reduced wear on brakes … due to recharging while braking.
  • Less frequent oil changes … (for the generator) due to very efficient use.
  • Gross reduction in fuel consumption … due to infrequent use of the gasoline generator.
  • Added torque … for accelerating onto freeways and passing at speed.
  • Quiet operation … while driving in electric-only mode.
  • Peace of mind … in knowing that it is possible to reduce dependency on petroleum products, while simultaneously not incurring range-anxiety

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