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2013 Detroit Auto Show: Via’s X-Truck is like a Volt pickup

If you’ve been keeping track of recent happenings in the evolution of hybrid cars, you’re no doubt aware that it was GM’s former vice-chairman Bob Lutz who put the original Chevy Volt project into motion. Since then, Lutz has left GM and is now working with a much smaller company called Via Motors. With Lutz’s expertise in electric vehicles, Via has produced a new plug-in hybrid — but not only is this one quite a bit different from the Volt, it’s completely unlike anything else on the road. Ok, we’ll admit that on the outside it does look remarkably similar to a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado, but that’s what Via was going for. Don’t let the familiar exterior fool you though, it’s what’s under the hood that counts. This beefy pickup carries a liquid-cooled 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and can travel a full 35 miles in electric mode. Anyone worried that the X-Truck is going to be some wimpy thing that’s all fuel economy and no power, fear not — the X-Truck’s two electric motors produce a whopping 800 combined horsepower.

The truck will run on its batteries until the charge is down to 20 percent, at which point the gasoline engine will kick in to recharge them, switching back off when the charge reaches 25 percent. The original plan was to use a V6 range extender, but the truck’s designers ultimately decided on using a 5.3-liter GM-sourced V8 after they discovered that the V6 had to work so much harder that it was actually less economical. Official EPA estimates have yet to be released, but Via claims the truck is good for 100 MPGe. Not bad. And even though this is a V8 pickup, Via swears that the only way to tell that the engine is running is to look at the driver information display. This display is actually an iPad, and it can double as a scan tool for service mechanics if you ever need your X-Truck repaired. Scaling up the kind of technology which went into the Volt in order to make a usable big pickup is quite an impressive thing. As AutoblogGreen reports, Bob Lutz told crowds at the Detroit Auto Show “As far as I know, no one else has a four-wheel drive, jacked-up plug-in truck. The idea is to give the consumer something a little different than the other extended-range vehicles that are out there.” Well, I’d say this qualifies as different.