This article was originally published on Gas2
by Christopher DeMorro
Events like Hurricane Sandy have shown just how fragile our power grid has become. Deploying fuel-intensive diesel generators can be all but impossible when roads are impassable, but green truck builder VIA is teaming up with energy company PG&E to test pickup trucks with the potential to power entire neighborhoods with their huge battery packs.
VIA Motors is banking big bucks on its plug-in hybrid technology that it claims offers fleet owners much better fuel economy and job site performance than conventional, gas-powered pickups. To demonstrate the usefulness of their hybrid trucks, VIA teamed with Northern California’s PG&E to demonstrate a vehicle that can carry a crew, tools, and up to 125 kW of power from an on-board generator.
In an emergency situation, the VTRUX plug-in hybrid trucks could be deployed to powerless neighborhoods and plugged into the grid, providing at least a temporary solution to the lack of electricity. It’s a novel idea, one that could make dealing with future outages a lot easier. The design also saves fuel, allowing the first 40 miles of driving to rely on battery power, with another 400 miles to go once the on-board generator takes over. VIA is also reportedly working on a production version of their 800 horsepower XTRUX, boasting twice as much power as the current model.
Other ideas have included mobile pedal bikes hooked up to generators, mobile solar panels, and used Volt batteries to provide temporary relief. And if freak weather events like Hurricane Sandy become more commonplace, as many climatologists fear, we’ll need all the good ideas we can get.