Bob Lutz, “one of the great car guys of all time,” showed up at Jay Leno’s Garage this week, and he brought some cool toys to play with (they’d have to be pretty darn cool to impress Leno) – VIA Motors’ electrified full-size van, SUV and crew cab pickup truck.
Ex-Marine Bob Lutz loves big cars, and he’s not the only one – he notes that full-size pickups are consistently the top-selling vehicles in the US. His new company takes tried-and-true GM models and soups them up with a 4.3 liter V6 and a 24 kWh battery pack. With a 100 MPGe rating and a total range of 300 miles, they aim to offer major fuel savings with no compromises.
VTRUX sport a worker-friendly feature that a standard gas model can’t match: 110 and 220 volt power outlets on the rear panel, right next to the charging port, suitable for running power tools or a whole house in case of a power outage.
Jay and Bob agree that a pure EV is “too limited at this point,” so extended-range PHEVs like these are the wave of the future. They also note with pride that most of the innovation in the growing EV industry is taking place here in the USA.
Bob says VIA’s vehicles are in high demand from fleet operators, who find that the monthly fuel savings more than compensate for the higher up-front costs. The trucks are now in a fleet beta-testing stage, and high-volume production is eight to nine months away.
Next the two take the 4WD pickup for a spin on the LA streets and freeways. Jay finds that it has plenty of acceleration, and feels just like a regular truck. In fact he can’t tell any difference – except for the money saved on gas and maintenance.