Bob Lutz And VIA Launch EREV Silverado, Crew Cab Priced At $65,000

3 years ago by Jay Cole 92

VIA VTRUX - Crew Cab Seats 6 - Priced At $65,000

VIA VTRUX – Crew Cab Seats 6 – Priced At $65,000

VIA Motors seems to have a real affinity for the NAIAS in Detroit, as they always put on a nice show.

Bob Lutz Finally Breaks VIA's Plans For The VTRUX 40 Mile Extended Range Truck Based On The Silverado

Bob Lutz Finally Breaks VIA’s Plans For The VTRUX 40 Mile Extended Range Truck Based On The Silverado

This year, they also moved the party over to the MGM Grand to launch their plug-in hybrid pickup truck – the VTRUX, which is based on the new Chevrolet Silverado platform.

Via Motors billed the event, and their favorite personality on hand, as follows:

“Join Auto Legend Bob Lutz and VIA Motors for complimentary cocktail hour immediately following the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference 5:00p Jan 14, 2015”

And over those drinks the former Vice Chairmen of General Motors made with some big information that we have been waiting for.

Mr. Lutz informs us that VIA will actually starting selling the 40 mile, extended range truck in February to fleets, and to the general public by the end of 2015.

VIA’s website is still mum on the cost, but no one tells Bob to not speak, and he says that crew-cab VIA truck will cost about $65,000.

“The combination of VIA’s extended range electric technology, in the number one selling vehicle in America, the pickup truck, means electric vehicles are now headed for the mainstream, lead by VIA Motors. This is one of those historic events where yesterday’s vision is today’s reality.”

VIA Says Of Their Exportable Power Outlets on The VTRUX:  " 120 and 240 volt outlets right on the rear of the truck provide easy access for work or emergency. Now you can plug your house into your truck in an emergency! The VTRUX power export module option provides 14.4 kW at 50 amps of onboard mobile power. A utility grade output module is planned for the future and will be designed to provide 50 kW of mobile emergency power to keep critical facilities online. "

VIA Says Of Their Exportable Power Outlets on The VTRUX: “120 and 240 volt outlets right on the rear of the truck provide easy access for work or emergency. Now you can plug your house into your truck in an emergency! The VTRUX power export module option provides 14.4 kW at 50 amps of onboard mobile power. A utility grade output module is planned for the future and will be designed to provide 50 kW of mobile emergency power to keep critical facilities online. “

Mr. Lutz added earlier at the NAIAS that Duke Energy, FedEx, PG&E and Verizon have already signed up with orders on the trucks.  Sun Country Highway has “agreed” to buy 1,000 trucks and bring them to Canada…although this reminds us a lot of the Project Better Place announcement of ordering 100,000 Fluence ZE’s from Renault.  We order them if we can find buyers.

As for actual deliveries, we don’t see VIA actually delivering a heck of a lot of trucks in 2015 as public orders don’t open for the bulk of the year, but according to Bloomberg Mr. Lutz said VIA would be happy to sell 12,000 this year and expects VIA to sell 50,000 per year by 2018.


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92 responses to "Bob Lutz And VIA Launch EREV Silverado, Crew Cab Priced At $65,000"

  1. Anthony says:

    I assume the 65K is after the tax credit?

    That said, if a similar gasoline vehicle is $40,000, and this is $65,000, you’re paying a $25,000 premium to go from 22MPG combined to “100MPG”. There are some added benefits (this vehicle can also act as a generator) but its a lot of gas you need to replace with electricity to get your money back.

    1. offib says:

      If it’s over 6000lbs or 2700kg, it’s price ca be completely written off with that damned $500,000 grant.

    2. scottf200 says:

      It has been stated many time that instead of work truck customers pulling a very expensive generator they could use this. 13kW for $17K; 19kW for $21K; 36kW for $26K; 42kW for $30K; etc
      Check out the cost from this google search:

      1. Spider-Dan says:

        I would imagine that a dedicated generator gets dramatically better kWh/gal than a truck engine.

        1. Bill Howland says:

          Good, lets put 4 tires and a steering wheel on one of those generators. We could call it a Nissan Cube, GEN 2.

          1. kdawg says:

            I don’t think the stand alone generators are really any more efficient. From what I’m seeing they are about 33% efficient.

        2. Brian says:

          I think you are quite missing the point. By having the generator integrated into the truck, you don’t have to haul around a generator with you. Plus the extra $20k cost of the truck is basically paid for if you don’t have to buy that generator.

          In what scenario would the gas saved by an external generator be even close to the extra gas used by not having an EREV truck?

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Well, humm, a plumber or other tradesman might need 2400 watts.

            A welder might need intermittently 12000 watts.

            Clarkson tells me the Volt dc/dc converter can reliably supply 175 amps, or around 2400 watts continuously.

            So, you could operate out of a volt, or volticized truck, (say they made a ColoradoVolt) and, plumbers wouldn’t need anything more than a few of Clarkson’s inverters.

            Someone intermittently welding steel would need a bigger inverter and a buffer battery glued to the thing.

            So you’d think other companies aren’t going to sit still here either.. The mitsu outlander has I’m told 1500 watts 100-120, or 240 for the various markets.

            1. Bill Howland says:

              Harbor Junk Tools sells a reasonably priced 10,000 watt inverter…

              Might be fun to experiment a bit; the thing I’m leary about is that crappy 12 volt battery they put in the volt…

              Clarkson how many ampere – hours is it really, and what voltage does it put out when its near to exhaustian? Or do the different year volts have differing batteries? The voltage output of mine is horrible but according to GM ‘meets specs’, what ever that means.

              1. ClarksonCote says:

                The DC-DC is rated at 175 amps if I remember correctly, plus or minus 5 amps. I believe that is at 15V, but I use 12V as a conservative estimate and also subtract a few hundred watts for the car’s ancillary 12V loads.

                That’s why the kits I sell are rated up to 1500W, to allow for some headroom.

                The key here Bill is that the amount of Ampere hours available is a function of the high voltage battery. And beyond that, as long as your Volt is on and has gasoline in the tank, the engine will cycle on and off to provide more power to the battery, which then supplies the DC-DC converter in the Volt used to power the inverter kit.

                So there’s never really any drop off.

                1. Bill Howland says:

                  Only complication here Clarkson is that I passed 3rd grade math.

                  An 800 amp load rather depends on the battery, if the alternator equivalent is only dispensing 175

                  1. ClarksonCote says:

                    Well I guess you’ve lost me Bill. For starters there’s no 800 amps on my kit. Maybe you were implying the Via setup, but even then, why would there be any drop off if the engine is keeping the high voltage battery above a minimum state of charge at all times?

                    By the way, I’ve passed third grade math too, and a couple minors in math during my bachelors and masters degrees, if that’s how you want to play it, haha. 😉

                    1. ClarksonCote says:

                      By the way, if you were referring to Via motors (though you were discussing my kit in your post so maybe I still am lost), Via most certainly does the conversion from the high voltage battery directly, not through the 12V system, so there is no 800 amps here. Something like 300 volts and 50 amps.

                    2. ClarksonCote says:

                      Ok, 10,000 watt inverter on the Volt, got it. I missed the connection there. Well I’d never recommend it, and I think the drop out would be far too severe. The 12V battery in the Volt just isn’t large enough to provide a current like that for any appreciable time. The inverter would almost certainly trip due to an under voltage condition on the input.

                      I think you would see the Voltage dip to 10V or lower, which of course would be bad.

                    3. Bill Howland says:

                      Yes at these power levels 12 volt systems are not optimal for 800 amps.

                      If I was going to try something like this in my VOlt I’d eliminate the 12 volt battery problem by purchasing (I think they’re around $340) a 260 ah (160 pound) battery and put it on the 5-10kw inverter. That battery will easily handle 800 amps. The only question is, does the Volt converter have a current-limit, or is it like the silly design in the roadster that has NO current limit and tries to run everything until it burns out?

                    4. ClarksonCote says:

                      Good question. I don’t recall hearing a definitive answer. I think it limits itself, given other people performing tests but I’m still not certain

                  2. ClarksonCote says:

                    Good question. I don’t recall hearing a definitive answer. I think it limits itself, given other people performing tests but I’m still not certain.

                    1. Bill Howland says:

                      Its an important question, because it turns out one can’t assume “good engineering judgement” was used and a current limit exists as it does for regulated supplies explicitly, or auto dc generators with the ‘field weakening’ relay regulator, or with more modern Alternators which (since the output rectified voltage is regulated) are intrinsically limited due to the increasing frequency/increasing reactance of the output.

                      Several people made the ‘above’ assumption and were WRONG. Many early Tesla Roadster owners burned out the dc/dc converters in their cars, assuming it was current limited but it is not. My Roadster, a 2.5, has an even smaller dc/dc converter than the original Roadster. I was told by Tesla Tech it is 13.8 volts at 30 amps. I believe this is a borderline design flaw – why? If the lead acid battery in the car develops a dead cell, there is a scenario that could develop where the load on the converter would be over 30 amps and it would burn out. The reason the ‘2.5’ has a smaller converter than the original roadster is that they shut stuff down when heavy loads appear (the heaviest is the anti-lock brake interrupter motor. THeir solution: Kill the accessory jack while the motor is running that way 30 amps (and not mentioned, but also probably the cooling fans) is all they need (unless the lead acid battery is going bad – which means if I notice it IS going bad, to quickly replace it before it burns out the Converter).

                      Gm roughly 15 years ago in an Oldsmobile Silouette SUV had a supposedly ‘100 amp’ alternator that would put bicycle headlight generators to shame. The problem here was that designers of that Alternator just HAD to know the things would burn out right and left since the thing was so dinky that it looked as though it would have trouble with 30 amps let alone 100. A friend of mine was told the ALternator was not covered by the warranty since he used the alternator to recharge the dead battery in the Suv and that in GM’s law system violated the warranty! More modern GM products wisely do not try to cut quite so many corners as this and I haven’t seen such a pitiful excuse for an alternator on any more recent GM products.

                    2. ClarksonCote says:

                      There have been some that have performed load testing on it, and claim it limits. But I agree, I’d like to know the answer before I tried connecting anything that caused excessive load.

          2. Spider-Dan says:

            Well, if the EREV truck costs $25k more but you don’t have to buy a $25k generator, that’s a wash. So at that point, the comparison remaining is [gas saved with PHEV MPG] vs. [gas saved with generator kWh/gal]. And I don’t know enough about generator fuel efficiency to be able to make that comparison.

            However, you should keep in mind that this truck only generates 14.4kWh. For $26k, you can get a 36kWh generator.

            1. Michael B. says:


          3. ClarksonCote says:

            “In what scenario would the gas saved by an external generator be even close to the extra gas used by not having an EREV truck?”

            Brian, see my post below. The Via power export option would actually use significantly less fuel than a typical generator. Unlike the generator, it can run at its optimal RPM, dump power in the battery, and then turn back off for a while. That off time makes it much more efficient. The standard generator doesn’t have the luxury of a large Lithium Ion battery to accomplish this.

            1. Bill Howland says:

              Well, I wouldn’t count on that… If you want an efficient generator buy one of those honda inverter jobs. Its similar to the VIa operation, however with the VIa you also have the battery charging efficiency factor, and the battery discharging efficiency, and then you have the inverter the same as you would have on a honda generator. So I wouldn’t expect a great amount of efficiency out of the VIA, especially since, they used to have a small V6 and a Large Generator, and Now they have a larger V8 and a Small Generator. So something aint Kosher in Utah. Even if we go back to the small engine, large generator scheme, its still ‘supercharging’ the high voltage battery and the efficiency is very low, and we have yet to Discharge it and put up with its inefficiencies in that mode.

              Its true the Honda Inverter GENSET is going to be somewhat less efficient at full load, but thats only running that way a few percent of the time and the part load efficiency is much much higher and makes the inverter complication worth it.

              1. Bill Howland says:

                Also, some of the larger Inverter Generators are actually cycloconverters so they eliminate the dc link and are higher efficiency since the frequency is transformed basically in one and only one operation, for even higher efficiency. There is basically a speed diffence limitation, but its on the ratio of roughly 26/60 so thats still a significant slowdown part load, and a few % points higher efficiency even if the engine cannot be slowed down more than 45% of base speed.

                1. ClarksonCote says:

                  From what I’ve read, people have been able to use their Volts and Priuses as power backups, and use a fraction of the fuel that an efficient Honda generator would have used during the same time frame.

                  I haven’t personally tested during long time frames though. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if being able to turn off an engine results in more efficiency gained than the inefficiencies of charging/discharging that are lost. Burning fuel to make electricity just isn’t that efficient.

                  1. Bill Howland says:

                    Not with you, but I’ve tried 3 or 4 times to broach the subject of “Prime Movers”, which totally falls on deaf ears, so I don’t even try anymore.

                    Gasoline engines today, I feel are a Marvel of efficiency. As an example, in my Volt, when the engine is cold it really hogs gas, but ONCE IT IS UP to operating temperature, the amount of useful work done (cogeneration) is nothing short of amazing compared to the gasoline usage.

        3. ClarksonCote says:

          “I would imagine that a dedicated generator gets dramatically better kWh/gal than a truck engine.”

          Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. The typical generator needs to run constantly regardless of load. With the truck, it has the batteries as a storage medium, and the engine can cycle on and off only as additional energy is needed. The battery providing the buffer is the key here, and lots of fuel is saved as a result.

          1. Spider-Dan says:

            Two things:

            1) Provided that this truck is not a strict serial hybrid (e.g. i3 REx) and has some linkage to the wheels, I find it impossible to believe that a truck engine has better fuel efficiency *at generating electricity* than an engine designed to do only that… at least, at peak capacity.

            2) For $25k extra, you are getting only a 14kWh generator. The links posted above show a 36kWh generator for $26k.

            1. Spider-Dan says:

              I also meant to say that while the truck engine may be able to operate more frequently at optimal RPM, without knowing the (certain) efficiency gap between the generator and truck engine at optimal RPM, it’s tough to say if the truck actually winds up passing the generator in efficiency when the generator is at lower RPMs.

              1. ClarksonCote says:

                With the exception of someone that always runs a generator at peak load, the truck will almost always be more efficient, due to the engine being able to cycle on and off thanks to the battery bank.

                Generators are like 20% efficient at converting fuel to energy, so it doesn’t take long to surpass their efficiency by being able to turn off the engine (I’ll say turning off the engine one-fifth of the time nearly guarantees it is more efficient)

                1. kdawg says:

                  @Spider Dan

                  The VIA Truck is a series hybrid.

                  Also regarding the price of the generators, you’ll need to add the cost of a trailer to haul that around. And note VIA says a 50kW option is planned.

            2. Lustuccc says:

              But according to the site, it is and it was designed from the beginning to be a series hybrid.


              You can see on the picture that the ICE is not connected elsewhere than the generator.

            3. ClarksonCote says:

              Just like the Volt, the engine turns on and off to replenish a buffer in the battery. Heck, even the Prius operates in this manner when it is parked and needs to replenish the battery. It makes for a very efficient form of off-grid power.

              1. Lustuccc says:

                Not at all, the gas engine is in no way used to propel the car.
                The Volt and the Prius have both the ICE and the electric motor clutched to the transmission gear.
                A parallel hybrid can also act as a series hybrid to replenish the batteries but both motors act together at times to drive the wheels. The Volt less often than the Prius.

                1. Bill Howland says:

                  You’re getting all worried about splitting hairs. My 2011 Volt never connects to the wheels at 65 and below. At such speeds my car is ‘kinda’ a simplified Via, although having a few motors instead of just one.

                  When the battery is dead or when its cold, A Volt operates quite like a Via.

                  As far as I can gather, the power export option is an INVERTER, and does not directly depend on the generator to work for the inverter to function.

                  Intermittent use of said inverter (not knowing its efficiency – it could be all over the place.. The harbor junk things are 78% assuming you have a decently charged 12 volt battery, or you’re using less current than the ’12 volt alternator replacement’, whose efficiency is hopefully much higher, as well as the high voltage battery at these (for it) small discharge rates.

                  So for the plumber who needs a slight surge rating (such as when starting that 1/2 hp drain cleaner motor), or a 3/4 hp drain pump
                  its pretty efficient long term, and the high voltage battery shouldn’t necessarily be excessively drained. Some of the time the plumber is going to be watching his “Sewer TV Set”, which draws next to nothing.

                  Other tradesmen might have power tools or electric air compressors that are more continuous duty.

                  Contractors putting in buttressing pilasters and needing to cut I-Beams to length, or attaching plates need significant welding capacity. probably approaching 10 kw, and for a while. They are probably the hardest load to run, and for this, Via’s (if its true, but all their silly numbers dont make sense) 15 kw inverter is pretty right sized. Depends on how much they charge for the option.

                  Most Plumbers I see solve the problem but having a “harbor Junk” $400 5kw unit near the back of the van and just use it when the homeowner’s supply is doubtful.

                  It would be easier to make a better analysis if Via’s website didn’t have such crazy numbers. But then Posters such as GGPA say that all this is merely the indication, that VIA is just a “Conservative Solyndra”, and they’re not a serious concern.

                  I don’t know if he’s right, but I’m not going to argue with him on that point, since, he DOES have a point.

                2. ClarksonCote says:

                  The Volt only links the engine to the wheels in certain conditions above roughly 40 mph, for added efficiency.

                  Under that, it is a series hybrid, cycling the engine on and off.

                  You continue to be clueless about the Volt and are stuck on the fact that it saves gas at higher speeds by using a third mode. Wake up!!

                  1. Bill Howland says:

                    They’ve changed it from ’66-70′ to 40? The skuttlebutt on the 2011 was it started at 66. Unless they lied about that too. Or did they change it to 40 on the newer volts?

                    1. ClarksonCote says:

                      I think 2 motor mode has always been around 40 when the engine is running, higher Speed when the engine is not runningl maybe closer to 70 as you state.

                      With engine running, and not demanding loads, my Volt kicks in 2 motor mode around 37mph. I think that so unchanged across model years.

                  2. LuStuccc says:

                    And you continue to believe the lies GM told everyone about this “electric car”.

                    The Volt does not fit the technical definition of a series hybrid . No way!

                    See for yourself how it works… Browse the pictures if you do not understand.

                    BTW the ICE and the electric motor drive the wheels when the batteries are weak and you floor the pedal AT ANY SPEED.

                    It is a parallel hybrid that act like a series hybrid and has computer driven multi modes of functionning.
                    Get a clue yourself and stop drinking all that GM’s marketing tells.

                    1. Bill Howland says:

                      GM only lied for the first 18 months. Then as deliniated, they stopped, being caught in an embarrassment.

                    2. ClarksonCote says:

                      I own the damn car and have seen what it does with a DashDAQ. When someone floors the accelerator in a Volt, and the battery has been depleted, it operates AS A SERIES HYBRID. It is at lower loads that it uses the engines power directly to burn less gasoline.

                      You are the one stuck on false half truths without a full understanding of the vehicle.

          2. sven says:

            I’m pretty sure another benefit of the VIA is that the emissions from the VIA generator with its catalytic converter would be dramatically cleaner than the standby generator.

          3. Bill Howland says:

            Clarkson, possibly true at one time, but not these days. Inverter generators (see my post on Cycloconverters) are quite part-load efficient and you are eliminating from your analysis the battery/charge/discharge resistance inefficiency detrement which is killing your case. See the other posts please.

            1. Bill Howland says:

              Regarding separate generator efficiency, I’m not considering those PowerEquipmentDirect things above, I’d be comparing inverter generators, or cycloconverter generators (both of which modulate the engine speed to the load at the time).

              THe big thing against the Via in this comparison is the relatively small battery (23 kwh – or at least that’s what they’re saying this week).

              If several tradesmen building a large house with no electricity of its own is using lets say on average, a constant 5000 watts more or less throughout the day (he has circular saws, and table saws and cutoff saws, and paint sprayers and Festoon lighting, and auxiliaries for Salamnaders, then the engine is going to be running for a short period of time recharging the battery too quickly, and then shutting down for a relatively longer spell.

              Except this will happen several times during the day, so here’s my list of inefficiencies even if the engine is theoretically running at its ‘sweet spot’.

              1). High charge rate of the relatively dinky battery thru its ESR (effective series resistance) takes a big cut in efficiency.

              – its not a trivial heat loss either. My Roadster airconditioner bakes the garage while charging at a medium speed trying to keep the batteries cool during charging. “supercharging, or to use GM’s term, Megacharging them Is going to create a lot of heat… THe refrigeration for the battery is another 100% loss.

              2). The 15 kw inverter only runs off of generator power for the, say 20% of the time the engine is running.. 80% of the time, in addition to the inverter and generator losses, are also the charge and discharge losses of the battery (and, should the battery heat while discharging, added 100% loss of refrigeration electricity, and any circulating pumps are another 100% loss).

              I know from my own use that those Honda Inverter things at part load are fuel sippers. One benefit is that the variable speed effectively matches the “SIZE” of the generator to the varying load. Now in the via that leads to point #2.

              2). Regardless about any theoretical ‘sweet spot’, additional gasoline must be burned to get the large V-8 up to operating temperature, and the best fuel economy will not happen until much gas has been burned to warm up the engine.

              2a). Most of the time the engine is cooling, so all that heat is wasted to the air. Then the next time the engine starts, it has to waste more gas heating itself. This is much worse than when driving, since driving is a much higher load than power tools, and the engine runs more often and doesn’t get a chance to excessively cool.

              Now the export option may prove to be economic from a pragmatic standpoint, as it rolls with the entire package, and its usable even if it is overall LESS efficient than a separate generator. Depends on what they charge for it , and here I haven’t seen even any Guestimates. So I don’t see how anyone can say with sureness which is best.

              I’m sure for certain people it will be great , and for others, it wont.

              1. Priusmaniac says:

                One advantage that wasn’t mentioned is that the external generator usually takes place in the back or require a haul, but that means you can not put another haul behind the first one since double haul is forbidden.

            2. ClarksonCote says:

              Bill, I’m not convinced. I do realize today’s generators are very efficient, but even then, the conversion efficiency from gasoline to electricity is what, 30%?

              So even if the Via concept is 20%, or 33% less efficient after all power conversions, if they have the ability to turn off the engine 1/3 of the time, they’re at parity with today’s generators. And from what I’ve seen, depending on load, it is easy for the engine to remain off 90% of the time.

              As far as I know, the ability to eliminate that 30% best case efficiency operation for a decent amount of the timeline wins out on all the generator technologies that have improved recently. Unless you’re operating at a continuous full load, but that seems unlikely in the majority of scenarios.

              1. ClarksonCote says:

                Bill, as a similar analogy, think of when the Volt is operating under 40mph. It operates in series mode, charging the battery, then shutting off the engine and running on that built up battery power.

                Even though this involves charging and discharging and inverter efficiency losses, the Volt gets something like 50mpg when doing this. The primary reason is that engines are not efficient, and being able to turn it off for some period of time more than makes up for the other inefficiencies that are being introduced.

                It seems to me that a very similar case exists for generators, despite the increases in technology referenced in your posts above. Unless the power draw is large enough that the vehicle can’t turn its engine off at least 30% of the time, I think it’s hard for the generator to use less gas overall.

                In the end, we could always perform an experiment while having a few drinks. 🙂

                1. Bill Howland says:

                  THe key to the 50 mpg in the volt is the engine operates a significant percentage of the time.

                  If the parameters were changed such that the engine only ran 10% of the time (such as playing with the mountain mode button), then the ‘megacharged’ battery would kill the gas mileage because of all the unwanted heat it would generate while charging.

                  If you take the opposite tack and say the engine will run a considerable period of time, then you will run into the case of the engine being oversized for the load.

                  The volt seems to have this ratio optimized for almost all driving conditions, but even here it is still not as good as some of the Subarus which are not hybrids at all and the engine is constantly running. The key here is to *NOT* megacharge the battery.

                  Running the engine only 5% of the time would cause horrendous gasoline usage since it would all be used up in notorius megacharger battery heating.

                  My proof is the volt itself… Once you start going 60 mph, the engine NEVER shuts off, since it is uneconomic to do so.

                  1. ClarksonCote says:

                    The engine never turns off above 60 because at that point average power demands dictate it is more efficient to couple the engine to the wheels and lose some charging and discharging inefficiencies, since the engine will need to always be on at these power demands.

                    However, in those cases, we are typically talking about demands around 15-25kW on AVERAGE, which is far more than the AVERAGE demand that a 15kW generator will observe on a work site. The engine would operate to charge the batteries in a very similar manner to low speeds in the Volt, and that would be very effective.

                    I guess we need to discuss more over ice cream sometime…

              2. Bill Howland says:

                IF I take your above paragraph at face value then I am assuming 100% conversion (loss less) efficiency from the v-8 to the generator..

                I’d take it that the gasoline to mechanical power conversion is in the low 20% efficiency range in the Via, but initially, since the engine has cooled off, it is much much lower, but even leaving that out, say 24%.

                From there it only gets worse.

                Mechanical to Generator AC (94% tops).

                80% OF THE time 3phase juice to battery input terminals (say 96%)

                supercharged battery terminals to chemical energy (70%)
                Refrigeration,and cooling pump parasitic loss (bundled in already with the overall 70% efficiency figure).

                (in other words, for 80% of the energy used by the export comes from 20% of the time).

                Chemical energy to inverter input terminals(97%)- except knock it down a few more points to run the refrigeration and cooling pump (so say 94%)

                Inverter input terminals to load (say 95%).

                So there are several operating conditions here, but let me analyize how ‘costly’ the energy is running the house when the engine is ‘off’, 80% of the time, since it came obviously from when the engine was on since the only place the juice is coming from is the gasoline:

                .24 engine conversion
                .94 generator efficiency
                .96 upconverter rectifier
                .70 Megacharging battery efficiency (includes refrigeration and pumping losses)
                .94 battery discharge efficiency (includes refrigeration and pumping losses)
                .95 inverter to 120/240 output twistlock.

                so thats UNDER 13.54% gasoline to twistlock efficiency 80% of the time, with the efficiency being much higher for 20% of the time, when the energy avoids bat chg/dschg.

                Even 13.54 % is unrealistically high, since this assumes amazing gasoline energy efficiency, and also that it is instantly at operating temperature, which wont be the case.

                1. ClarksonCote says:

                  I don’t understand why you’re assuming the battery is “mega charged” versus at a rate similar to when the Volt is cruising at 40mph, in other words charging the battery at the optimal efficiency given the engine and the battery charging characteristics.

                  Yet at the same time, you also assume the engine is on 80% of the time which contradicts the point above as well as your point about the engine not being hot enough to be efficient.

                  I guess in the end it all comes down to what the load characteristics are. At most worksites I’ve seen they need max power for a few minutes and then nothing for quite a while.

                  1. ClarksonCote says:

                    I see now that you were trying to reference the 80% time as being the off time, but if that’s the case I’d double check your math again. You’re deceiving yourself with the percentages on engine efficiency that you’re stating without extrapolating that in the time component. The engines efficiency you’re quoting is only a hit when it is on, not when it is off. That’s where all the savings comes from.

                    And I still don’t understand the whole mega charging statement. Charge it at 10kW. I bet that it is plenty fast for the average load characteristics while still being able to cycle on and off. Plus, that is still less than a 1C charge rate, so from the battery’s standpoint, this rate is still very slow, and it should not need a lot of cooling to be taking place.

                    1. Bill Howland says:

                      OH, Ok, No offense but the deception is on your end and I was trying to figure out why you couldn’t see but you’ve mentioned this

                      twice now so I think I see the bone of contentions.

                      Assuming t0 of a dead battery, (they drove to the worksite and now, for purposes of discussion, there is no charge left from the overnight charge), absolutely 100% OF THE electricity made has to be from gasoline.

                      The v-8 engine only has 24% efficiency tops while it is running (and,as I said that number is optimistic since the engine will cool) but it can only convert gasoline to electricity while it is running, so it doesn’t matter if the electricity is used while the engine is running or when it isn’t, but all of then energy has to be accounted for going through the engine, and when this is happening, the efficiency, while high for an ICE is still overall low. The battery charging/discharging only makes it worse.

                      I’d buy your case if you were talking about a 50 kw inverter, as I’d expect the overall system efficiency could be made higher.

                      BUt a 15 kw inverter is just too small a losd for a medium size V-8, which is what they used in one of the real life vans.

                      It works in the Volt at low speeds since, although the overall efficiency is low, its much higher than most (but not all) non-hybrid Ice’s, since the power requirement is so diminutive that the low efficiency is peanuts. When comparing to the run of the mill ICE, the gasoline engine’s HORRIBLE idling efficiency (not so true of diesels) again throws the efficiency winner over to the VOlt, even though here the efficiency on an absolute scale is still low, just better than the non-hybrid.

                      I didn’t do a complete analysis since I left out the higher efficiency time when the engine is running, and when I singled out the 80% OF THE Time the engine is off, I’m still calculating that all of that 80% of energy went through the engine on the last turn on, therefore engine efficiency counts for ALL electricity used, not just 20 %.

                      I did say ‘80% of the electricity’ is inefficient since it goes through the engine / generator, but its kinda ‘listen to what I mean, not what I say’ since obviously both the 20% electricity and the 80% electricity run thru the engine during the 20% time frame.

                      Let’s take a 10 kw avg load, your figure.

                      Lets assume the engine runs 20% of the time.

                      If there were no electrical losses past the generator then, the load on it while running would be the existing 10 kw load plus the 100% efficient charge/discharge system of 40 kw, or 50 kw of load.

                      Now, lets see if the efficiency gets worse when we shorten the duty cycle of the engine. Lets say it only runs 10% of the time… Then the load on the generator will be the 10 kw existing load plus 90 kw to the existing 100% efficient charge/discharge system. Except charging a 23 kwh battery at a 95 kw rate (chemically) since we’re going to lose a few percent while discharging. and to get a 95 kw actual charge into a 23 kwh battery will require something like 200 kw since 100 kw will be dissipated in esr/and airconditioner loads.

                      Another way to look at it is to consider the Top Gear/ Musk Fight.

                      Musk was obviously fighting to keep the stockprice up, or else he truly didn’t understand the above efficiency ‘equation’.

                      Brian has seen this. Musk claimed Top Gear was LIEING when they said they only got 53 miles of range with the Roadster. If you charge or discharge the battery quickly, you’ll blow all the stored energy or wannabe energy into HEAT, and there’s nothing left to move the car. As a matter of fact Brian said at one point ‘Why is the Roadster so inefficient’? I answered it depends ‘where you drive it (on the efficiency curve), and ‘where’ you charge it).

                      Now the volt is highly optimized in all facets of operation such that nagging inefficiencies are minimized.

                      But the worst inefficiencies happen at almost 0 power levels so they’re masked.

                      Playing with the ‘mountain mode’ in my car unmasks the inefficiencies. Obviously you are not supposed to drive the car this way, but the inefficiencies are there, and a small load on a VIA is not enough to run the big engine /small battery at a great efficiency..

                      Now if they had a much smaller engine, or much bigger battery, there’d be no argument from me. But they don’t. Therefore, what others say about a dedicated generator optimized for its function has more validity than you’re allowing.

                    2. ClarksonCote says:

                      I understand where you’re coming from Bill but I still don’t agree. I think we should TEST it. 🙂 In reality, I think the issue is we’re using entirely different assumptions about use case, as well as charge rate.

                      For example, you’re still talking about a 100kW charge rate and assuming a 10kW average load. My whole point is that I think that the average load is something more like 5kW or less, with a fair amount of the time near zero, so the battery could easily charge at a 20kW rate, at roughly 1C (battery friendly).

                      From the load standpoint, I would’ve expected peak loads at 15kW, and then a fair amount of time near 0kW. In that scenario, even the most efficient generator will be burning gasoline when no electricity is needed, and that efficiency of roughly 0% over a non-trivial amount of time will use more fuel overall.

                      As we continue to debate this, it seems like there are just different assumptions that we’re both using for anticipated load at the work site.

                    3. Bill Howland says:

                      Well, of all the loads I mentioned the Festoon Lighting has been the largest continuous load, being lots of 100 watt incandescents. With cheap CFL’s coming out, some contractors may decide to chance it, since they haven’t been used to date since these things tend to get banged around. But, eventually LED’s which can get banged around a bit more, may start to show up there, if they’re not worried about theft, nor initial cost.

                      As far as expected results goes, the only things I can say is that I am far less surprised by the operation of these vehicles than most people.

                      Example: Brian and Elon Musk were ‘surprised’ that you can ‘normally’ drive a Roadster such that it only gets around 50 miles range. Didn’t surprise me.

                      As far as which is better, my Gut reaction is that a 50 kw inverter would fair much better in efficiency, although here too larger generators that have decent loads on them are also quite efficient.

                      As far as the VIA goes, as to whether its good to buy the option or not, it depends on what they charge for it. Convenience wise, it also wins, although the so called ’15 kw’ “Standard Option”, (I’m putting everything in quotes since none of VIA’s numbers make sense) can only run a tiny welder since there is no 50 amp outlet, or at least there was not in the past. BUt all this is up for grabs.

                      For occassional, low kwh usage, it doesn’t matter which has the better effficiency since the amount of money is trivial compared to the convenience of not having to do anything – so there the 15 kw option on the Via wins Hands Down.

                      They need a 50 amp recepticle, and an inverter ‘rated’ to take the “RATTY” welding load, (might at time intermittently exceed 50 amps also) if they plan on helping tradesmen install repair Pilasters in houses. Currently, there is a self contained engine driven welder in the back of the Van. So an inverter system that would work would have a ‘slight’ space advantage, since this guy will still need to carry a welder. For this application the inverter is not as compelling as at first blush, since what he’s using now also takes up next to no room over a 240 welder alone.

                      Now Lutz apparently was promoted to Chairman, a good move in my view. GGPA stated the whole company is phoney, but I’ve never seen Lutz ‘excessively lie’ in the past. He says they’re gonna make 20,000 to 50,000 of these things SOON. I just hope now that he has some real authority, he can shake some heads together to fix the nagging issues , everyone (including me) has seen with VIA.

      2. mike w says:

        Maybe it sounds like a good deal but the local HOA might give you a talking to if you dump one of those portable generators in your driveway or yard. The truck mounted system means no towing and its available anytime there is gasoline in the tank. Plus one to Bob Lutz for electrifying Americas most popular type of vehicle.

  2. David Murray says:

    Hmmm.. I would love to see them succeed. But I really just can’t see it being cost effective to retrofit these vehicles once major OEMs start building trucks themselves. And I can’t see many consumers plopping down $65,000 for one of these. That’s a good $20,000 premium over a regular gas version.

    1. Just_Chris says:

      I remember reading a similar comment about 4-5 years ago when we were starting to see the likes of coda, the C1 ev’ie, Blade and countless other small EV retro fit companies springing up all over the world. The most famous of which was Tesla, who did a really good retro fit of a Lotus and sold it for many times the cost of a Lotus Elise. Maybe Via will be the next Tesla or maybe Ford will do a really good PHEV F-150 and Via will become the next Coda. Mitsi are already looking at the Triton for the PHEV treatment which would be a pretty capable vehicle. I think the important thing is these (comparatively speaking) little outfits continue to push. The luxury car market ignored the Model S and are now playing catch up, lets see how the truck guys go with via.

  3. Rick Danger says:

    Bob has often said that they started electrifying the wrong end of the vehicle spectrum with the Volt; this is his attempt to electrify the “right end.”
    I think he just wants to show GM and truck buyers that there is a market for a serious plugin hybrid truck like this.
    It’s a no brainer that GM could produce these for considerably less than VIA can.

  4. kdawg says:

    Also this from Auto News

    “VIA Motors just delivered the first 40 plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid work trucks to fleet customers. Another 200 units of retrofitted Chevrolet Express vans are in transit”

  5. Speculawyer says:

    I’m excited to see some electrified big trucks. But I don’t know if after-market conversions are the way to go. But I guess we need to start somewhere.

  6. ClarksonCote says:

    Since when does FedEx use pickup trucks?

    Still, vehicles like this would be great for fleets. I would expect fleets to really go crazy over their van options.

    1. Anthony says:

      Service vehicles for their fleet?

    2. Chris says:

      VIA also converts regular cargo vans. Those are used by FedEx for deliveries.

  7. Marshal G says:

    If I were a contractor I’d appreciate having a silent electrical outlet in the field rather than a big loud generator. At this price though I don’t see many private buyers. Fleet sales will do well if they have a central place to charge. I assume businesses have all sorts of tax write offs for vehicles, not just the EV tax credit. 40 miles puts the PIP to shame.

    1. Just_Chris says:

      It’s not size that counts but how often you get to use it.

      The PiP fully depletes its pack almost every journey it does maximizing the electric miles per kWh of battery produced. Until we get some of these mega/giga/tera factories producing lots of batteries the PiP is (despite its conservative design) doing a good job at reducing petrol consumption.

      Obviously once these big battery factories are build and there are heaps of electric cars then the PiP will be the pathetic loser of the EV world but until that day the PiP is on the front line of the volts for oil war.

      1. Brian says:

        Your comment only really applies if we assume that the world is 100% battery production limited. In that case, you’re right – it’s better to get a lot of small batteries on the road that are used 100% than fewer large batteries that are used less than 100%.

        I don’t know if we are 100% battery constrained today, though. It doesn’t seem that the PiP, Volt or even Energi are battery constrained.

        1. Just_Chris says:

          The PiP battery is 4.4 kWh, the leaf 24 kWh if they made the battery in the PiP 6 times bigger they might be battery constrained as this would be equivalent to producing 100k+ of today’s Pip’s.

          I am not sure if all the manufacturers are battery constrained I know Mistu, Nissan and Tesla have all said they had battery supply issues during the last 24 months but that is only 3 so perhaps you are right and this is only a localized issue and Toyota could do more. I think of all the manufactures they are the ones that could make the biggest and most dramatic difference if they were really committed. If they offered a plug-in version of every hybrid they sell (even one with a small battery) they could change the world pretty much overnight. I assume that since they are not even building to demand for the Pip that this is unlikely.

  8. Brian says:

    The EREV will be the way to go for trucks, long into the future. The PTO (Power Take-Off) feature will be a huge plus to people who actually use their trucks (rather than just commute in them).

  9. mrenergyczar says:

    I wonder if GM is paying him to test market them. I’m guessing GM could make them for about $53k….

    1. David Murray says:

      I’ve wondered the same thing. And I bet Ford could make an even cheaper PHEV pickup truck using their PHEV design.

      1. Bloggin says:

        Ford has a hybrid version of the New Aluminum F-150 coming by 2019.

        It’s the new RWD hybrid truck drivetrain that they were to work with Toyota on but decided to build it on their own.

        With a hybrid comes an Energi model for Ford models.

    2. ModernMarvelFan says:

      If GM can make profit at $53K on those trucks, then there is NO reason why GM doesn’t offer it.

      Have anyone checked how much a similar diesel truck cost these days?

      1. Taser54 says:

        Via is simply an incubator company. GM is not willing to commit internal resources to make EREV truxs. Accordingly, Lutz takes the risk, develops the market. Only when the market reaches a certain size will GM step in and acquire Via. Then Lutz will profit. It’s a win-win for both companies.

        1. reguest says:

          aren’t plug in trucks a better thing in general? It doesn’t matter if it is simply by a holding company or not.

  10. Bill Howland says:

    We all had this discussion 3 days ago. I’m glad BOB Lutz is spilling the beans, as he always does, since there’s little reason to keep this stuff secret.

    In an interview with Mary Barra & Keith Crain, Mary wouldn’t commit to either saying who’s decision it was to make the BOLT, and whether it will be essentially made or not. You don’t get that kind of Crap with Lutz. He will say, Yes, No, or Maybe depending on these things, which he will list. But he *will* say something.

    That said, 40 trucks has even beaten the beautiful TUCKER vehicle that the Big 3 killed decades ago, at 58. And they aren’t constantly tied up in court by 3 huge automakers (much much larger then, than they are now). So, I’m rather Jaundiced about everything here.

    As regards their silly technical statements, here’s another great one right in this press release:

    “..The VTRUX power export module option provides 14.4 kW at 50 amps of onboard mobile power….”.

    Now where can I get 288 volt equipment to utilize this?

    1. Bill Howland says:

      err: whose, Hasn’t.

      “…The VTRUX power export module option provides 14.4 kW at 50 amps of onboard mobile power….”

      Just trying to make Lemonade out of that Lemon, maybe they mean 12 kw @ 50 amps on the twist lock, then an additonal 20 amps from the 120 volt GFI outlet.

      The complication there is the picture of the yellow flapped outlet in the past has been a 30 amp single-phase twistlock.

      So maybe its silly to try to make sense of it since even they don’t know what they’ve got. They’ve been saying the same pig latin for about the past 5 years. Maybe they’re just spouting some off the cuff remark from REMY that never made any sense, and no one there has enough sense to change it here nor on their Website.

  11. Ryan says:

    If Bob knew anything about computers he would have never named anything VIA. That name has long been taken by something else.

  12. Ian says:

    This truck is a winner… Just wait.

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      If it is, then GM really needs to do a compact version for the Colorado Pickup and Chevy Equinox with the Voltec…

      1. Ian says:

        I’m waiting for GM to realize it dropped the ball and buy VIA Motors out. Give it six months to a year to put some trucks on the road and prove them. This truck is gold.

  13. James says:

    “…roll out the Bolt Concept, that should keep the bastards happy!”

    🙂 Ohhhhh GM…

  14. Spin says:

    This truck is just too expensive. If they were 50K, it would be an interesting option for most buyers. Using the vehicle as a site power supply has limitations as well. You can’t make a quick trip to the supply house without taking your power with you.

  15. I’ve driven the van, and ridden in the truck. The use case is going from ~10MPG to ~75MPGe and running it all day long in loops. Airport shuttles and deliveries for the van. Charging at the hotel while waiting for the next passenger load.

    That’s a lot of gas, CO, particulates and other emissions to save.

    It’s just a matter of time before city centers were air quality is an urgent concern require zero emission operation, just like London.

    When it pencils out over the lifetime of the vehicle, it’s just a matter of financing and incentives.

  16. Eric says:

    Think of the VTRUX as a Volt for a Tall family and their Luggage! 5 Years ago many people wondered who would spend an extra $20K on a Cruze that could go 40 miles on electricity, about 25K people did before they drop the price. I bought my 2012 Volt, in August of 2013 after they reduced the 2014 price, online for $29,900 delivered to my house before Fed, State and Utility credit which reduced the price to $19,450. At $19, 450 the Volt is a very Nice LITTLE car to carry 1 or 2 Tall people comfortably around town or anywhere, which is why I bought it to drive me to work, before giving it to my daughter. But when it comes to taking the Family of 4 (not including the 80lb Dog) anywhere, it is up to the Ford C-Max Energi (with moderate complaints) and its less then 20 miles electric range and with the engine coming on when it wants to.

    The Volt can Not handle my Tall family. So what car, available in PA, with a Plug in the Next 5 years (Concept, Planned, In Production) can carry 6 (or 5 or 4) Tall Adults for 40 miles on Electricity Only? The Probably $85K to $100+K Tesla Model X, the VTrux $65K-$80K, $71K+(the one you want is $90+K) Tesla Model S (for 4 or 5 semi-Tall Adults) and that’s it! Everything else that maybe big enough inside, goes 20ish miles on Electricity (Volvo CX90, Mittsu PHEV, etc.), and No Trunk (Fusion Energi) and cost $80K plus (Porsche), maybe $45K Mercedes B Class EV (105 mile Electric Range) with NO Fast Charge Option. Model 3 is a compact car to compete against compact cars BMW 3 and Audi A4, too Small for my Tall family. I have done my part squeezing my family into cars with a Plug, is it too much to ask for a car for Tall people that can go 40+miles on Electric and cost around $60K or Less?

    Vtrux is a ($35K) Volt to take me to work, a ($35K) Fusion Energi to drive my family around town and across the country WITH our luggage, a ($35K ) Pickup Truck when I needed it and a backup generator/remote mobile home power just for giggles. $65K sounds like a bargain (compared to Tesla $100K) for my Tall family for at least the next 5 years. Please someone point me to a cheaper option with a Plug and 40 miles electric range for a Tall Family (I really don’t want to pay $100+K for a Model X)! I have purchased/lease 15 to 20 cars/small suvs for my wife and myself and have Never considered buying a Pickup Truck, until the VIA VTRUX.

    Sorry for the rant, but all these affordable, but Tiny Plug-In cars are really starting to tick me off. Thanks for letting me share.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Right on all points.

      Except: A). Its been years and they’ve made 40.

      B). Since you’re tall you want the Via PResidential SUV.

      I’m not tall but I want it anyway.

      Unfortunately, They’ve discontinued it before they started making it. So its been vaporware-retired-in-place or v-ripped.

  17. Priusmaniac says:

    Wonder why we haven’t yet a similar system in a motor home, it would have a handy constant 15 KW electricity supply. That would make it possible to get rid of gas bottles for cooking by using induction plate instead and the electric power supplied.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Any motor homes I’ve looked at are ‘rather dear’ with the electricity when you’re not at a campground. They may or may not have solid state refrigerators, but more likely ‘electrolux style’ gas refrigerators, or ‘dual fuel’ electric -gas so then when plugged in you can use your normal household appliances.

      Otherwise, most seem to try to work off a plain old 12 volt system when traveling and the big heat loads (refrigerator, stove, room heater) are run by propane, and since Propane is a “CleanCities” approved Environmental Fuel, manufacturers have no incentive to change it.

      1. Priusmaniac says:

        Yes that’s right, but it is exactly what can now be changed. Propane out, batteries and rex in. The Rex double as a cogeneration unit and the battery provide all the electricity they need. As a consequence you can be all electric from a supercharger if you want to and high power electricity opens the way for unsuspected motor home applications. Beside a deployable vertical solar pannel equipped with an automatic high wind security could allow for permanent total electric autonomy. If you have ever seen one of those cisor mecanism to extend a platform vertically, that is what I would use for a vertical photovoltaic pannel extension. When the wind is to high it is retracted and a windgenerator takes over. So you have generation when it is windy as well.

  18. Bill Howland says:

    I suppose some future motor home could be all electric, with a 2000 kwh battery, and fold out solar panels and wind turbines, so that your all electric home on wheels could continue to operate in the wild, even after depleting the 2000 kwh battery.

    Haven’t seen one of those yet at my local RV center. But never say never.

  19. Martin T says:

    Glad to see it’s finally here.
    Great for high mileage business customers.