VIA Motors is aiming to sell 50,000 hybrid trucks and vans a year by 2018, according to its Chairman, Bob Lutz, as stated in a recent interview.
Considering that the company recently started delivering its first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vans to customers, it’s rather an open question how close these goals are to reality. Not a surprise, though — Bob Lutz isn’t one known to hold his tongue, after all.
That said, the company does already have some decent commercial contracts — including orders from Fed Ex, Verizon, Pacific Gas & Electric, Duke Energy, and Sun Country Highway, amongst others. So the figure isn’t necessarily a wild one.
These comments, made during an interview with Bloomberg, are particularly interesting considering that first deliveries of the company’s hybrid pickup trucks aren’t even beginning until February. Are the comments intended to spike sales? Or just honest thoughts out of the head of Lutz?
Gas2 provides some thoughts on the comments:
Prices for the hybridized trucks are $65,000 for the pickup and $79,000 for the van. Since they are essentially the same vehicle under the sheetmetal, there is no explanation given for why the van costs a whopping $14,000 more.
The vehicles VIA offers are based on the standard Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup truck and the Express cargo van. VIA adds its own proprietary hybrid powertrain that allows both vehicles to have a combined fuel economy rating of 100 MPGe. Electric-only range for the pickup truck is 40 miles; for the van, it is 35 miles.
That’s assuming drivers actually remember to plug in once in a while. Fleet experience with the Chevy Volt has been dismal, since most fleet drivers can’t be bothered to recharge their vehicles and just continue to drive as long as there is gas in the tank. There is no word if Chairman Lutz is planning to ride along to make sure proper recharging procedures are followed. Unless the vehicles are plugged in, their real world fuel economy will be no different than the donor vehicles, which cost half as much to buy.
Excellent points. And, actually, with the greater weight from the batteries, the fuel economy on gas is worse for these vehicles than the standard gas versions of them. Will Lutz actually be forced to ride around in the cab of every driver reminding them to recharge their 40-miles-per-charge PHEV truck?
The recent dip in gas prices is perhaps an issue for Via Motors as well (though, certainly a temporary one), as how can you convince a fleet manager to shell out so much money for a PHEV when gas is so cheap?
Image Credit: VIA Motors
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