Hybrid pickup trucks closer to production thanks to new engine
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According to USA Today, Via Motors is finally ready to take its unique modified plug-in electric powertrain into production as it's shored up a $20 million contract with as many as 50 different commercial fleets around the country.
After striking a deal with the Department of Energy to help subsidize the $79,000 price tag (the cost for a pickup with the new powertrain) for the conversion (performed on 2013-model Chevrolet Silverado 1500s, Express vans or Suburbans), Via Motors will begin production and start making deliveries next year.
Depending on the application, the system allows for up to 40 miles of range on full electric power but can also use the 4.3-liter V-6 (the Vortec 4300, not the new EcoTec3 V-6) gas-powered engine to quickly charge the batteries for additional distances. A top Via executive estimates that it's possible that a full-size pickup driven over a 15,000-mile delivery duty cycle could save as much as $4,500 in fuel an maintenance per year over eight years.
Via Motors likely will stay focused on the commercial market, where DOE money is more accessible, for several years before giving attention to the personal-use, non-fleet buyers.