We probably don’t have to tell you that the number one, best-selling vehicle in America is the pickup truck. This is due in large part to commercial fleet sales, which move trucks in droves for their utility, simplicity, and sheer ruggedness. But with gas prices going ever higher, running a fleet of gas-guzzling trucks has some owners looking for alternatives.
Alternatives like the Via Motors plug-in hybrid pickup truck. Before you go off and dismiss this hybrid pickup as a silly fad, you should know two things. One, former GM exec Bob Lutz, who brought back the Camaro is on board with Via. And two, the Via hybrid pickup can get 100 miles per-gallon. You read that right; 100 MPG. As Bob Lutz explains to Jay Leno in this video, it’s pretty simple. GM supplies Via with base model pickups, as well as vans and Suburbans, equipped with 4.3 liter V6 engines.
Two electric motors, one for the wheels and one for the on-board electricity generator, are plugged into a lithium-ion battery pack. The 300 kw electric motor can drive the truck up to 50 miles on electricity alone, after which the gas engine starts charging the battery. The electric motors, not the gas engine, deliver power (and lots of instant torque) to the wheels, for a total range of about 350 miles.
Though the trucks could cost as much as $40,000 more than a standard pickup, the increased fuel economy could mean huge savings over the whole fleet. The 100 MPG figure comes from the fact that most vehicles don’t travel further than 40 miles a day, most of which the Via pickups could cover without touching a drop of gas. Via is focusing on fleet sales for now, and utility companies are especially interested as there is an on-board generator that can provide a lot of power for some big tools if need be. But don’t be surprised if hybrid pickups make it into the mainstream sooner rather than later. Times are a-changin’, and every dollar not spent on gas could be better spent on the next project or race car.