GM Clones Parade At Detroit


Last January 10, Via Motors unveiled its E-REV plug-in hybrid Silverado pick up truck, Suburban and Express Van lines. This company retrofits cars and trucks through the installation of a plug-in hybrid drive train called the E-REV. This system provides extended range travel using electric power with a supposed 100 miles per gallon in distance travel available on a single charge.

The Via Silverado provided voluminous torque produced from its electric motor. Because of its close ties to General Motors, these vehicles from Via Motors are called clones, because the company purchases glider versions of known GM models and then install their hybrid power train. The glider versions are shells of known GM models without the standard internal combustion engine.

The close relationship with the Detroit carmaker is due in part to Bob Lutz, the former Vice Chairman of GM. He is also currently on the board of directors of Via Motors. Another pivotal officer is Alan Perriton who is currently the company’s chief operating officer. He used to be one of the top honchos in the Asia Pacific operations of General Motors.

According to the company, the Silverado hybrid is able to provide twenty one miles to the gallon in combined hybrid-electric use. While initially Lutz called climate change as the biggest scam in history, his current goal of production of E-REVs is not merely “saving the planet from global warming.”

Despite the company’s clear lineage, the company has been slow getting off the ground. Firstly, GM has its very own hybrid Silverado, making for direct competition. Secondly, the company’s E-REV system is quite new and has not been fully tested and extended. Despite these issues, the E-REV Silverado has a 402 horsepower electric motor coupled with a 4.3 liter V6 gas engine. The engine acts as both generator and independent motor. The main propulsion comes from the 24 kilowatt per hour liquid cooled lithium ion battery array. The gas engine never drives the wheels, clearly putting the electric motor as its main engine with the gas engine as a mere secondary charging power source. It is said that in order to fully charge this vehicle, it only takes four hours.

The company is focusing on leasing or selling their units to government fleets then to private companies by 2013. The sticker price of the E-REV Silverado is $79,000 and on a lease it costs $700 per month. According to the company’s Director of Commercial Fleet Programs, Jeff Esfeld, the offer for the unit for inclusive lease deals would even add the cost of the electricity as a further benefit.

Being GM clones, they look like their Detroit counterparts. What is under the hood though, the lack of exhaust pipes and plug ports where pump should go can make this design a true electric vehicle for all to see and enjoy.