While all over the world the gasoline prices are tumbling and in the US a gallon has dipped below the $2 threshold, there’s a company that’s confident it can marry two opposite worlds.
VIA Motors Inc. a closely held company that transforms traditional pickups into plug-in hybrid trucks is bullish enough to say it can deliver 50,000 vehicles per year by 2018, according to its chairman Bob Lutz – a man that is well known for his time with General Motors. The startup company seeks to bring together two worlds that seem to be torn apart by the Grand Canyon these days. The US consumer has rekindled his longstanding love relationship with the pickup truck segment, even before gasoline prices took a steep dive last year since June. And then there’s the US government and its federal regulators that want to have the average corporate fuel economy of any US carmaker up to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
So, here come VIA’s plug-in pickups and delivery vans, which have batteries, electric motors and only use the internal combustion engine as a gasoline-powered generator to extend the electric range when needed – in a way that’s very similar to the operational principles of Chevrolet’s Volt. Lutz, who was part of the team that developed the Volt as vice chairman of GM is an 82-year-old former Marine that also worked for Chrysler, Ford and BMW.
VIA purchases Chevrolet Silverado pickups from GM and retrofits them with two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack that can provide an all-electric range of 40 miles (64 kilometers). The 4.3-liter V-6 gasoline engine is used to power up a generator and together the truck can go for as long as 400 miles on a full charge and full tank of gas.