VIA Motors Aims to Stake Claim in the EV (Electric Vehicle) Market with High-powered Electric Trucks and SUVs.

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Via Motors: Live and electric at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

Young company aims to stake a claim in the EV market with high-powered trucks and SUVs.

Via Motors hasn’t delivered a vehicle to a customer yet — deliveries are scheduled to commence this year — but it has a couple of big things going for it: a new electric hybrid powertrain designed to generate massive amounts of torque while giving large trucks and SUVs unheard-of fuel economy, and auto-industry legend Bob Lutz on its board of directors. At the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Via Motors debuted what it believes are three models that will give American consumers a real option when it comes to getting the most mileage from their large utility vehicles.

XTrux

VIA XTRUCK (© Rick Dole)

VIA XTRUCK (© Rick Dole)

What is it? The flash of the young Via Motors line, the XTrux pickup is all about big: big truck, big tires and big performance and fuel-economy numbers.

What’s hot? The XTrux is designed to be an 800-horsepower, 4-wheel-drive, high-performance pickup truck with up to 100-mpg fuel economy, depending on driving habits.

What’s not? Real-world driving conditions will certainly bring down that mileage number. The concern with a young builder like Via is that it won’t survive long enough to become viable, let alone deliver on its vehicles’ potential.

How much and when? No official production date or price information is available at this time.

MSN Autos’ verdict: If the XTrux is everything Via Motors claims it to be, it could be a benchmark in fun electric motoring. Via Motors has the chance to do something special with the XTrux; we hope to see it on and off the road soon.

Electric luxury SUV concept

VIA Presidential (© Rick Dole)

VIA Presidential (© Rick Dole)

What is it? A Cadillac Escalade-based plug-in hybrid SUV that aims to give high-end SUV shoppers a new option with greater economy than anything else on the market.

What’s hot? As a luxury SUV with the cargo room and comfort that consumers expect, along with 4-wheel drive and an estimated 100-mpg fuel economy, Via Motors’ concept could find a healthy share of the market if it can gain enough attention.

What’s not? As with most startup auto builders — and especially with those in the electric/hybrid game — vaporware potential is strong. We’re hoping that isn’t the case with Via.

How much and when? At this time, there is no information on pricing or release dates for this luxury SUV.

MSN Autos’ verdict: With many large hybrid SUVs delivering anemic performance, disappointing mileage or both, a worthy challenger would be more than welcome. If nothing else, Via Motors’ SUV merits watching.

Passenger van concept

VIA Motors VTRUX Van (© Rod Hatfield)

VIA Motors VTRUX Van

What is it? Via Motors is attempting to create its own market with the first extended-range 12-passenger van on the market. This plug-in hybrid van is aimed toward commercial fleet sales.

What’s hot? If Via’s powertrain can deliver on its fuel-economy promises, this van concept could be the future of airport shuttles and commercial people-moving.

What’s not? The hit that hybrid powertrains take in fuel economy, depending on the terrain, may limit the viability of the Via passenger van for some businesses.

How much and when? At this time, no information is available on how much the Via passenger van would cost or when it would be available.

MSN Autos’ verdict: If the Via powertrain can keep its passenger van anywhere near the mileage average it’s touting for its other vehicles, there would be no reason to buy anything else for people-moving purposes. Time will tell.

* By James Tate. To view full article and photos, please visit http://editorial.autos.msn.com/via-motors-live-and-electric-at-2013-detroit-auto-show