The name Bob Lutz is no doubt familiar to those of you who closely follow the auto industry, but for the rest of you, know that he is considered the father of the Chevy Volt. Lutz left GM after a long and storied career, though he now finds himself heading VIA, a plug-in hybrid truck company which recently unveiled an 800 horsepower concept called the X-Truck.
VIA has been around for a few years, promoting its $79,000 hybrid pickup trucks as solutions for commercial truck fleets. Based on GM vehicles like the Chevy Silverado and Express Van, VIA adds large battery packs that power electric motors, which are in turn charged by an onboard gasoline engine. The X-Truck uses this same premise, but takes it to the next level.
Rather than one 402 horsepower electric motor, the VIA X-Truck has two, powered by a 24 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. The generator engine in this case is a 5.3 liter V8 engine, and VIA claims that the X-Truck has a 35-mile all-electric range before the generator kicks in once the battery reaches a 20% charge. MPG numbers with the generator on weren’t mentioned, but it’ll no doubt be better than your standard gas-powered pickup. Oh, and 800 horsepower, because race truck.
Via also brought a plug-in hybrid Suburban concept called the “Presidential”, a luxury SUV with fuel economy in mind. While we doubt Obama will be driven around in one anytime soon. But it’s still pretty sweet thanks to its extended-range EV drivetrain and emphasis on quiet comfort. According to Lutz, the only way you’ll even know the gas generator on is the standard iPad control center.
The X-Truck is, for now, just a concept. VIA is currently looking to leasing its plug-in pickups and vans to fleet customers who are skittish about dropping $80,000 or more on a single vehicle, even though VIA claims a two-to-three year return on investment. The commercial plug-in pickup market is currently wide open to all comers, and if VIA can get enough of these vehicles in the right hands, they might stand a chance at reshaping the way American companies do business.