Utah-based VIA Motors will leverage the charisma and recognition of "Maximum" Bob Lutz when he introduces the automaker's extended-range electric pickup truck, SUV, and full-size van at the 2012 Detroit auto show.
VIA Motors fits its proprietary eREV extended-range electric propulsion system, dubbed VIA V-Drive, to existing General Motors vehicles in the hunt for greater efficiency. This plug-in powertrain setup is said to provide 30-40 miles of tailpipe-emissions-free driving courtesy of a 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. When the battery is run down to its minimum state of charge, a 4.3-liter V-6 turns a 201-horsepower generator that helps move the truck, SUV, and van another 400 miles, VIA Motors claims. The tractive electric motor is rated for 402 horsepower and the vehicles can be configured for rear- or all-wheel drive.
VIA Motors' full-size truck, available in standard, extended, and crew cab variants, appears to be based off the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra. The extended cab truck weighs in at 5500 pounds, VIA Motors says, and carries a 1500-pound payload rating. The full-size SUV looks like a Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon; the commercial van is a dead ringer for the Chevy Express/GMC Savana.
Lutz sits on VIA Motors' board of directors, and the company plans to start fleet deliveries in 2012 before shipping vehicles to consumers in 2013.