Market News

 October 03, 2013
Electric pickup trucks going into production

 A company that adds electric powertrains to pickup trucks, vans and other large vehicles says it is going into production next year with a $20 million contract.

Via Motors says it will deliver pickup trucks and vans to 50 corporate fleets, including utilities and public agencies, around the nation after working out its deal with the Energy Department. The department is footing matching funds to help agencies buy the $79,000 pickups. Part of the deal is that the trucks will upload data about their performance and use for research studies.

In contrast to all the small cars that have become electrified, Via has an interesting proposition: why not bring plug-in electric powerplants to full-size vehicles, which can see the biggest benefit from them. Also, the maker keeps their existing gas engines for maximum range.

Via made the announcement at the Plug-In 2013 trade show.

Despite their size, full-size pickups, which typical get gas mileage in the teens from their gas engines, can start "using less gas than a Prius" with plug-in capability, says Via Motors President Alan Perriton.

After being plugged in, the pickup trucks with lithium-ion batteries can go 35 to 40 miles before their gas engines are needed again, he says. He estimates that a pickup driven 15,000 miles a year will pay for its higher purchase price in gas savings in eight years -- and give drivers 37,000 free miles.