Via Motors knows a thing or two about standing on the shoulders of others. The plug-in hybrid utility vehicle company's entire business plan is to take big General Motors vehicles and convert them to something with a plug, with the support of Bob Lutz (pictured, with the VTrux, a converted Chevrolet Silverado). Here at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the company isn't on the press release schedule until tomorrow, but the brand new solar tonneau cover is just sitting out on the convention center floor. So we went to take a look.
Jeffrey Esfeld, Via's director of national fleet sales and business development, told AutoblogGreen that the the idea is to use all the real estate available over the truck bed to increase the vehicle's efficiency. The industrial-grade solar panels will take a "fair amount" of abuse, Esfeld said. The new solar tonneau will be available in two versions, 800- and 400-watts, that will both help power the car's battery or, if used at a work site, any power tools running off of the truck's outboard power outlet. If you park the truck in the sun all day, the solar panels can add up to six (in the 400-watt model) and ten (800) miles of range to the battery pack. That's why the company's slogan is "an electric truck that doesn't need a plug."
The industrial-grade solar panels will take a "fair amount" of abuse.
Via will not be announcing the price tomorrow, but since the truck and tonneau will be available in March, we don't expect we will have to wait too long. The truck is supposed to start at $79,000.