VIA Motors Signs $20 Million Deal With DoE For Corporate Fleets, Will Start Selling To Public In November

OCT 4 2013 BY JAY COLE 16

VIA Motors, maker of the plug-in VTRUX (it’s a Silverado) and fronted by Bob Lutz, has signed a $20 million dollar with the DoE/South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to make it easier to supply fleets (including public agencies and utilities), with their 35-40 mile truck.

DoE Helps Make VIA Motors Product Lineup A Reality

DoE Helps Make VIA Motors Product Lineup A Reality

The basic premise of the deal is that the DoE will provide matching funds to help more than 50 public agencies buy some fairly expensive trucks and vans (the VTRUX starts from $79,000).   In return for this funding, Via will install what they call “proprietary equipment” to upload all the usage data for research studies.

At a press conference on Wednesday at the Plug-In 2013 electric vehicle show in San Diego, Alan Perriton, VIA Motors president was quite pleased with the development.

“The pick-up truck is the number one selling vehicle in America and VIA Motors is the only automaker building electric light-duty pick-up trucks, cargo vans and passenger vans.  The all-in cost is actually lower than driving a gas truck; this is very welcome news to budget-constrained fleets who spend more and more each year on ever-increasing gas prices, who can now save money and reduce their fleet emissions.”

Mr. Perriton noted that over 8 years he thinks a VTRUX can save a fleet over $37,000 in gas and operational expenses.  We guess this research study will eventually confirm or deny this claim.

More details (and the official press release can be found below).

However what is of more interest to us, is that this new infusion of money has likely given VIA the confidence to now separately announce that they will finally being selling product to the average Joe who really just wants a plug-in truck or van; which if you look at the monthly sales in America is more than half the population.

“We will begin selling to the general public at the Los Angeles Car Show.”

You Can "Pre-Order" And Get In Line For Your Own VTRUX Now For $1,000 - Shipments Start Q1 2014

You Can “Pre-Order” And Get In Line For Your Own VTRUX Now For $1,000 – Shipments Start Q1 2014

For those not familiar with the LA Auto Show, it kicks off November 22 and runs through December 1st at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

As for when the first deliveries will be made, those will begin rather quickly too according to the company promising “…early 2014 delivery.”  VIA also says you can go to their site to get on a waiting list, but also notes that the list is getting extremely long.”

VIA PRESS RELEASE FOLLOWS:

SAN DIEGO, CA — (Marketwired) — 10/02/13 — In a press conference today at the Plug-In 2013 electric vehicle show in San Diego, California, VIA Motors president Alan Perriton announced that VIA has signed a contract to build & deliver $20 million of electric pick-up trucks and vans to over 50 participating fleets. In addition, VIA will install proprietary technology into each vehicle that will record and transmit real-time data to allow the DOE to quantify improvements in fuel economy and emissions.

The contract is administered by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) acting as project manager. The California Energy Commission is also participating the program. The DOE plans to publish the data for use by government agencies, participating fleets and the general public to use to help quantify the benefits of operating plug-in electric vehicles. VIA’s electrified pickup trucks have already demonstrated the potential to reduce gas consumption and emissions by up to 80% on average in early beta testing with large fleet customers.

“Plug in electric passenger vehicles are now becoming widely commercialized,” said Matt Miyasato, SCAQMD’s deputy executive officer for Science and Technology Advancement. “Expanding the commercialization of near zero-emission vehicles to include pickups and cargo vans will drive us closer to our goal of a near-zero emission transportation sector.”

“The pick-up truck is the number one selling vehicle in America and VIA Motors is the only automaker building electric light-duty pick-up trucks, cargo vans and passenger vans,” noted Alan Perriton, VIA Motors president. “The all-in cost is actually lower than driving a gas truck; this is very welcome news to budget-constrained fleets who spend more and more each year on ever-increasing gas prices, who can now save money and reduce their fleet emissions.”

The program includes technology installed in each vehicle that will record and transmit data to the Idaho National Lab (INL) for analysis by the DOE and EPRI. INL is one of the nation’s leading national labs operated by the DOE and specializes in evaluating vehicle performance and energy consumption.

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16 Comments on "VIA Motors Signs $20 Million Deal With DoE For Corporate Fleets, Will Start Selling To Public In November"

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Life cycle costs are the only true concern in fleets. Here, VIA professes to save the bean counters tens of thousands per vehicle. This will allow them to dominate large fleets IF they can produce enough.

These are actually Plug-In Hybrid trucks, where the automaker keeps their existing gas engines for maximum range.

“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 rack up $37,000 in fuel savings over eight years. Also, the regenerative brakes mean fewer brake pad replacements, leading to additional savings.”

But how does $37,000 in savings help offset the cost of an $80,000 vehicle?

THE BIG QUESTION IS: With fullsized trucks being the number one seller BY FAR, why do Ford, GM, RAM and Toyota ( companies listed by order of total sales ), who literally sell millions of trucks per year to Americans – refrain from adding such systems to their existing trucks? Having frame rails, the batteries just slip in between them, not crimping hauling capacity as in passenger cars? The answer? They’re LAZY. Lazy and hip-deep with oil executives on their boards of directors. No automaker other than Tesla and Nissan has come out and really put forth an effort toward electrification. You can even go as far as call the Volt a compliance car. So far there are no rumors or indications GM is expanding the EREV concept to other platforms. The most obvious being fullsized pickups and commercial vans. By choosing trucks – these companies would absorb the high costs of batteries and GM has a big lead in PHEVs already with Voltec. VIA is a shame to GM because they use GMs trucks to prove EREV’s viablitiy in that sector. If GM pressed forward it’s humongous buying power, supply chains and factory space – not to mention it’s… Read more »
If you really wanted to get me “stahhhted”, let’s talk COMMERCIAL VANS. The U.S. auto industry slipped through the “Chicken Tax” in the ’60s which made all Americans victims of zero competition from beyond our shores. This enabled U.S.manufacturers to sell us the same old gas sucking, ancient van designs for 50 years! Finally, Daimler realized there was SUCH A HUGE GAPING CHASM in the American commercial van market- with the giant hole in the market being gas-efficient fleet and commercial-sized cargo vans….They deemed it PRACTICAL to built diesel Sprinter vans in Germany, literally disassemble them and rebuild them in America and sell them for $40,000. I dare you to go for a ten minute drive in your community today and not see one. The Sprinter became the icebreaker that crushed the Chicken Tax! Now Ford is, for the first time, beginning to build it’s European commercial van ( the Ford Transport or T-Series ) here in America. The Sprinter will have competition here for the first time. This means businesses will begin to have choices in a diesel van large enough to do the job. Ford can certainly undercut a van that’s built twice and shipped across the Atlantic.… Read more »
You will notice Fiat/Chrysler is aware of the Sprinter/Chicken Tax situation too. They’ve rebadged THEIR European commercial van a( FWD Ducato ) and you’ll be seeing it on our roads also – labeled as the Dodge Promaster. GM is last to react – as they have nothing half as good as Ford’s Transport – and will resort to rebadging Opel commercial vans, also sold as Renaults in Europe. How do we know? Slightly camoflauged Renault vans have been see tooling around Canada as of late. So here we go — The best Auto Giant GM can do is sell Renault vans here in the US!!!! Oh, yes —- and to combat the recent influx of small vans – they’re rebadging A NISSAN….Yes, the same Nissan NV200 van that we’ll see as NYC’s mainstay taxi and Nissan’s eNV200 electric – will also be sold as A CHEVROLET…. with a different grille…Yay GM…..Way to use your engineering might! I say it’s embarrassing and indictative of what to expect from the big G. If they can’t engineer a Sprinter van competitor, and they can’t fight the tiny Transit Connect and NV200 – can they change the world in electric transportation? Short answer: NO… Read more »

Correction: I said “Opel commercial vans also sold in Europe as Renaults.” The correct fact is, Opel vans are
rebadged Renaults…so they are Renault vans, not Opels.

– JM

I disagree, VIA is an innovative incubator that will likely be absorbed back into GM when demand is substantiated. VIA takes all the risk and their reward will be that this private company will be purchased by GM.

This happens ALL the time. Was Google lazy for purchasing Youtube, Motorola, etc? No. These companies had something that added to what Google needed. Youtube became an advertisement channel, Motorola was purchased for its patent portfolio.

What the hell are you on about? I have owned two trucks, and they both work hard for a living. If I rented a truck for the once or twice a month that I needed to haul stuff, it would obliterate the gas savings I got from having a smaller car.

Having an electric truck isn’t going to satisfy the green crowd anyways, who apparently want everyone to haul refrigerators on bicycles.

There is projected substantial savings ($27k) even including the cost of the Truck.

The Pickup crowd, with EREV, won’t waste much more time than the larger fleet truck crowd is wasting wtih the adoption of LNG.

In business, lower life cycle costs trump politics. What Lutz has been getting at, with fuel efficiency improvements when the baseline is so low, is about to be tested in the market.

GM & Ford should be building these kind of vehicles in-house. Electric utilities will love them.

An 80-mile BEV pickup truck even without gas engine would do great for site-work and around-town activity. Since the Via truck uses an electric motor at all times, they could also do BEV versions.

Wheres my electric Ranger? In fact where is any ranger?

Oh, well, there is always the Tacoma. Oh, wait, Toyota just said they would rather eat roadkill than make electric cars ! DOH !

Selling that in Europe could be a big hit since people like a pick-up but the tax on the large displacement engines just make it unaffordable for most. With an electric VIA you can avoid those taxes and thus really enjoy driving it. It also of course would reduce the super taxed (over 100 %) gasoline taxation as well.
The external power supply would in more, fast become a must have which would make it harder for standard pick-up to compete

I’m all for it. It will help build the market and make PHEVs less expensive in the long run. Then I can ditch my Volt and get back into a truck which is better suited to my line of work. 🙂

For those questioning the math, I saved over $28,000 in fuel when I purchased my 2005 Prius after selling my 2001 GMC ext.cab Z71.