VIA Motors has been selling limited numbers of the extended-range VTRUX pickups and full sized vans to early fleet adopters, began production in November, but the ball really gets rolling in 2014.

VIA trucks are based on converted full-sized GM models. The pickup and van are first, and a Suburban based SUV is to follow.

On a a 100-mile drive, it should get 30 mpg, and on a typical 50-mile day with full battery charge, the trucks should average around 100 mpg. This is an astonishing achievement for a 402 horsepower work vehicle, and helps to offset the $79,000 per-unit starting price for volume orders.

A terrific use for the real estate afforded by a full-size bed is a solar tonneau cover that uses the same kind of solar cells as a house would.

We – and Jay Leno – think the trucks are great because we see long-term potential. Americans have a love affair with big vehicles, and this company is pioneering with more audacity than the maker of the donor trucks – though who knows whether they’ll be bought out in time?

As volume from its Mexico assembly plant increases, and supply costs go down, the clock has started ticking for a paradigm change in bigger passenger vehicle mpg, even if these are primarily commercial for now.