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Via Motors 100 MPG Electric Pickup Launching At Detroit

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So far, the range of electric vehicles offered for general sale has been fairly limited - most carmakers have been selling their technology in standard family cars, or city cars.

In terms of efficiency, those vehicles are actually relatively good. Why not try and make improvements in the generally less efficient truck class?

Via Motors have been doing exactly that, and the Chicago Tribune reports the company will debut an extended-range electric pickup at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

None other than Bob Lutz will be introducing the truck, little more than a year after the first Chevrolet Volts hit the streets, a car he played a significant part in.

The Via Motors eREV, as it's known, works similarly to the Volt.

A 402-horsepower electric motor is fed by liquid cooled, 24 kWh lithium-ion batteries and allows the truck to drive on electric power for around 40 miles. As this depletes, a 4.3-liter V6, gasoline-powered range-extending engine can kick in to provide extra power, enough for a range of 400 miles.

Unlike the Volt, the eREV doesn't seem to have any mechanical connection between generator and wheels, a feature that caused much contention over the Volt at launch.

Currently, Via is buying different ladder-on-frame platforms from GM - the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Tahoe and Express - and converting the vehicles to extended-range vehicles. This method does suggest the same technique could be used on non-GM vehicles in the future.

Production is set to begin in 2012, and Via has already been taking orders for the eREV. The company expects to produce 20,000 units per year and has plans for SUVs, vans and other large eREV models.

With solid GM underpinnings the business model certainly looks a lot stronger than many electric startups, and using proven platforms removes the element of unfamiliarity that puts many people off electric vehicles.

With claimed economy of 100 MPG between gasoline and electric and strong electric torque, the concept seems quite appealing.

Only price could be an issue, Via's website stating an anticipated selling price of $79,000 should enough orders be received. That, initially, may make it only really suitable for subsidised fleets, rather than frugal individuals.

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Comments (13)
  1. Via Motors has a great video about their vehicle:

    http://www.viamotors.com/powertrain/

    I thought they were using in-wheel motors, but if your converting a vehicle that already has a drivetrain occupying the central tunnel, then it's easier to create a conversion kit that does the same thing.

    I hope they continue to develop their in-wheel tech, as it allows the most flexible layout for vehicle design. Perhaps they will eventually develop their own vehicle based on that tech.
     
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  2. I seriously object to the title of this article. As far as I see, Via Motors is claiming 100 MPG (in typical daily driving) not 100 MPGe. Of course I also object to Via Motors claiming 100 MPG because I am sure that they are assuming electric miles are "free" and don't need accounting. It is under this scheme that the Volt dash-display often shows 250 mpg.

    If we are going to talk mpge, like the EPA does, the Volt only gets 94 mpge. So this truck will probably be 40 mpge and that context is painfully absent in the article making the article misleading.
     
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  3. I object to the title because it says "100 MPGe electric pickup". It has a gas engine, it's a plug-in hybrid. When I clicked on the article I thought it was going to be an electric truck.
     
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  4. @ John - Apologies if you object to the MPGe designation, but it was purely done out of common sense. The truck's economy is based on both its electric and gasoline range. As you rightly point out that assumes that electric miles don't count, when they do. The combined figure over whatever distance they're choosing - presumably an EPA-style run - works out at 100mpg, but since electric range is part of that it's still an "equivalent" figure.

    @ CDspeed - Further apologies. We have a limited amount of characters to fit a title into, and "range-extended electric vehicle" would have gone significantly over that limit. However, I do urge people to read the article's content rather than simply comment on the title.
     
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  5. How about, "plug-in hybrid"? Range extending to me is an electric car with a bigger battery, not the ability to burn gas. Gas and electric are two different power sources that only hybrids combine.
     
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  6. John, also - I can only write based on what I know. Since Via only claims the 100mpg figure, that is the only figure I use. I trust that our readers are intelligent enough that, when they see the word "claims" in context of a range-extended vehicle, that true mileage can vary.
     
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  7. However, I will change both references in the article to MPG rather than MPGe, if that helps.
     
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  8. Thanks for the effort there. Certainly the manufacturer must bare most of the blame for the confusion.

    However, that doesn't leave you off the hook. Just as when European or Japanese numbers MPG are quoted in stories, some sort of parenthetical comment is probably required here as well. If you cannot figure anything else out, simply parenthetically saying "(EPA number will undoubtedly be much lower)" would probably be a fair warning.

    But as I have said already, a simple mention that the one electric truck we know of gets 62 mpge would provide some much needed context. or possibly noting that this 100 mpg claim is akin to the Volt's 230 mpg claim that resulted in a 94mpge EPA rating.

    The 100 mpg claim is absolute rubbish.
     
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  9. For context, Azure dynamics Transit Connect EV has an EPA rating of 62 mpge. This truck will surely be less than that given its size.
     
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  10. what isnt mentioned is the gas MPG rating. guessing low 20's at best. but if comparing a 100 mile per day average of 25 mpg verses 100 mpg. the seemingly $80,000 price tag might not be so bad.

    at $3.50 a gallon/25 mpg and 40 miles per charge recharging /12 cents per Kw and 90% charging efficiency we are looking at regular truck costing $14 a day verses a 60 mile gas or $8.40 plus 23 Kw to replace an estimated 21 Kw or $2.77 or 11.17 a day means a savings of $3.83 per day or roughly $20 a week or a grand a year. the numbers are weighted greatly towards gas, so real savings could easily double that.

    (continued)
     
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  11. (part 2) But all this does not consider the different performance metrics of gas. its easy to see a truck getting less than 20 mpg especially if most of its driving is around town.

    now, if using EV around town and using the gas engine only for highway driving, its conceivable that same truck could average 30+ mpg. that again would double the savings where a well managed plug in could save the owner upwards of $3-4,000 a year over a gas only vehicle. add some public charging options and that could add even more savings
     
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  12. "As this depletes, a 4.3-liter V6, gasoline-powered range-extending engine can kick in to provide extra power, enough for a range of 400 miles".

    The 4.3 L V6 is a good reliable engine but a bit dated in todays gas saving market.
     
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  13. Series electric hybrids are the answer to the CAFE regulations since they will allow higher average mile per gallon ratings to be possible for large vehicles like trucks and luxury cars. You also will not need a 4.3 liter V6 since the gasoline engine will only be turning a generator you can get by with a smaller 2 liter engine which should be able to do the job quite well. Imagine a large 4 door sedan or nice full size truck that can get you 60 or more average miles per gallon between pure electric and gasoline extended range. Sounds great to me. This will hopefully allow more time for the battery makers to develop large kilowatt hour battery packs at a fraction of the cost they are now. So until then pure electric cars will be expensive.
     
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