VIA Motors reports that its first shipment of VTRUX pickups has just been delivered.
Its Chairman Bob Lutz said that in addition to the 40 trucks – which were sold to fleet customers such as Verizon and Federal Express – VIA also has 200 VTRUX Vans en route.
The VTRUX and VTRUX Van are plug-in hybrid vehicles that VIA customizes for commercial clients. Currently, the company is only supplying vehicles for fleets. Once VIA is able to satisfy all of its open fleet orders – which is anticipated by end of 2015 – Lutz said the company plans on opening sales to individuals.
VIA designed the VTRUX to combine the usefulness of a work truck with the fuel economy of a hybrid. As a full-sized pickup, VTRUXs have a 2,000-pound payload capacity. An onboard panel with 115-volt and 220-volt outlets can power tools at a work site.
With an estimated price of $79,000, this PHEV pickup is about double the cost of a comparable fleet truck. According to VIA’s online calculator, owners start seeing overall vehicle savings only after driving 12,000 miles or more in a year.
SEE ALSO: 2014 VIA VTRUX Test Drive Review
To build these trucks, VIA starts with a Silverado 1500 Pickup. New trucks are transported from GM’s Silao, Mexico plant to a VIA assembly facility 100 miles north in San Luis Potosi. Here, the Silverado is transformed from a stock 24-mpg gasoline pickup, to a hybrid.
VIA keeps the truck’s original 4.3-liter V6 EcoTec3 engine. The factory-installed transmission is removed, and a 150- kilowatt electric motor integrated into a transmission takes its place. A 22-kilowatt-hours lithium-ion battery pack is mounted underneath in the previous transmission’s location.
Similar to the Chevrolet Volt, the VTRUX is an extended range electric vehicle that only uses its engine to charge the battery. It can drive up about 35 miles solely on electric power, and has an overall range of more than 335 miles. In charge-sustaining mode, when the engine provides enough power to maintain a 20-percent battery charge, VIA estimates an average fuel economy of 30 mpg.