The 2025 Ram 1500 Ramcharger rocked the pickup world when it was revealed last year. It promised all of the advantages of an all-electric vehicle with the added benefit of towing large trailers without worrying about killing the battery after only a few dozen miles.

The not-so-secret solution found by Stellantis, the huge company that owns Ram, was to stuff a V6 under the hood of the Ramcharger and turn it into what is called a range-extended electric vehicle. The engine turns a generator which sends juice to a pretty large battery that can also be recharged at home without using any gasoline. The battery then powers a set of electric motors. But the Ramcharger isn’t the first pickup to try this approach.

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Making the Ramcharger before it was cool

Back in the 2010s, former GM exec Bob Lutz was a big believer in electrification, which is why he backed the first-gen Chevy Volt. It's also why he got behind a company called Via, which made an extended-range electric pickup called the Vtrux.

A decade ago, with a bit of help from none other than Bob Lutz, the former General Motors Vice Chairman who had a big role in bringing the Dodge Viper, Pontiac GTO and Chevrolet Volt to life, a company called Via tried its hand at making a plug-in hybrid, extended range pickup.

Initially, three models were slated for production, all keeping their Chevrolet-made stock engines under the hood: a Silverado-based pickup, a Suburban-based SUV and an Express-based van.

The lineup was announced in 2011 but production and fleet-only sales began three years later. However, as the video embedded at the top of this page shows, the company’s initial plans didn’t actually materialize as they were supposed to.

The idea was to keep the stock engines and throw out the transmission. Then, a small, 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery was supposed to be fitted between the chassis rails. A 402-horsepower electric motor was to be bolted to the transfer case and a 150-kilowatt generator was envisioned to provide energy to the aforementioned batteries. In other words, there would be no mechanical connection between the engine and the wheels.

Bob Lutz with a Via Vtrux pickup

The official blurb said the truck would be capable of driving up to 40 miles on a full charge, as well as providing 120- and 240-volt outlets to power tools on the job site. In theory, it all seemed very nice. In reality, however, things weren’t so good.

As far as we can make out from the Aging Wheels video up top, the production pickup didn’t get a 402 hp drive motor, nor the 24-kWh li-ion liquid-cooled battery. Instead, it came with a 254 hp drive unit, a 150 kW generator and a 22.5-kWh lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo4) battery pack. That said, the EREV could output up to 14.2 kW of power through a pair of outlets and the engine does kick in when the battery can’t keep up with the demand.

However, the whole thing is slow, it can only be charged at a rate of up to 5.5 kW, it can’t tow because the generator can’t keep up with the energy demands and it’s terribly inefficient. The video points to a draw of about 800W with nothing plugged into the 240V outlets. The average fuel economy was also the same as the base, gas-only Silverado on which it was based–roughly 18 miles per gallon–all while carrying a price tag of about $80,000 back in 2014. A base Chevrolet Silverado with the V6 engine was half.

A press photo of the Via Vtrux pickup truck

More than anything else, the Vtrux is a testament to the fact that EV technology today is much more advanced than a decade ago. Electric motors and batteries are smaller and more efficient and the software side of things is exponentially more developed compared to 10 years ago.

Let’s just hope the upcoming Ram 1500 Ramcharger will make all these advancements work for it, and not against it. Also, as a fun fact for the end of this story, Via is still in business but you can’t find a single mention of the hybrid Vtrux from the 2010s. Instead, the Vtrux made today is an all-electric commercial vehicle based on a skateboard platform and the cab of a Ram Promaster, albeit redesigned.

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