VIA Motors to Convert GM Pickup Trucks and SUVS to Plug-in Hybrids
The gist is GM needs to push its foray into the hybrid world by beefing up its offerings, especially if it wants to ride the momentum of pits Volt PHEV. In comes VIA Motors, much as Magna International did for the original Ford Focus electric prototype to answer the perceived need. Let’s hope this will yield the same success for GM.
Technically Speaking. Using a GM 4.3 V6 engine coupled to VIA’s own VR300 electric motor backed by a 24kWh lithium ion battery pack, the platforms shows good numbers. The electric motor delivers 402 hp with 400 nM, or 300 ft-lbs torque. Using also their gas generator, a VR150 which produces 201 hp, enough to recharge the battery pack, this makes it a comprehensive platform. With 40 miles on electricity alone, the onboard generator kicks in the recharge the depleted pack and the internal combustion engine, ICE kicks in to drive the wheels.
The great news for fleet owners here is the capacity to use their trucks and SUVs on electricity most of the time, since their average daily range is around 60 miles. This would greatly improve the overall gas budget, as the PHEV can be plugged overnight to squeeze as much as possible.
How Much? Obviously with any new technology and with the aim to build only a few thousand in the first year, prices will go down if there is greater public demand. As of now, the vehicles are priced at $79,000. Fleet owners can knock off $20,000 from federal incentive rebates, which brings them down to a more affordable 50,000 bracket. Reservations start with a $1,000 deposit.
All in all, this is good news for GM who hasn’t developed its own hybrid technology as much as it could have done in its financial heydays. With most of the resources pulled into the research and development of the Volt PHEV, the GM hybrids haven’t matured as well as other car makers.