SolTrux at Irving AltCar Expo 2014 on NBC Dallas–Fort Worth

Christine Lee of NBC Dallas–Fort Worth reports:

North Texans will get a chance to check out some of the coolest looking and energy efficient vehicles in the coming days.

The 5th Annual Texas AltCar Expo takes place at the Irving Convention Center through Saturday.

Jeff Esfeld, national fleet director with VIA Motors, said they’re unveiling the most efficient full-sized truck ever built.

“We convert a completed truck into an extended-range electric vehicle,” he said. “What that means is, we’ve sized the battery pack for the average day. So the truck will drive 40 to 45 miles on the battery, zero emission, for about a dollar of electricity.”

He said when the battery is depleted the gas engine is used to drive the generator. Esfeld said the truck also has a solar bed panel that could produce 600 watts per hour.

That means an extra 10 miles a day on the vehicle or even the ability to export some of its power.

“That’s a 14.4 kw gen set so that will power an entire job site or several homes,” he said. “During Hurricane Sandy, all these companies from the utilities from Verizon, they were caught without enough mobile power export. So instead of a tow behind generator, it’s built into every VIA vehicle.”

The Tesla Roadster was another vehicle on display. Owner and Arlington resident Scott Weber said his vehicle is powered by 6,800 lithium batteries and can go up to 235 miles in just one charge.

But honestly, Weber said he originally made the $131,000 purchase because the Roadster reminded him of his favorite childhood car from Speed Racer.

“The fact that it’s totally electric, it doesn’t use any gas, it’s low maintenance and it will outperform a Mustang or a Porsche was just an added benefit,” he said.

Pamela Burns, with The North Central Texas Council of Governments, said electric vehicles are on the rise in the Metroplex; where about 1,500 of them are currently on the roadways.

“For a long time Dallas was second per capita in the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the nation, so we’re definitely seeing things expand,” he said.