Recently, we introduced you to the VIA VTRUX, an electric pickup truck with a range-extending gasoline engine. Now we are set to bring to you the SUV variant from the same company.
VIA is headed up by former GM executive, Bob Lutz, so these all-electrics are based on Chevy models. The VIA VTRUX SUV, which is also dubbed the Suburban, is based on the 2011 Chevy Suburban, but with a vastly different drivetrain underneath it.
With all of the hybrid SUVs hitting the marketplace, we honestly wonder if there is room for an electric SUV of this nature. Sure, we have the Tesla Model X SUV showing up at some point in the coming years, but it is not your "typical" SUV. The VIA VTRUX Suburban is a traditional SUV that simply lacks the traditional gasoline power.
So, how doe this VIA SUV hold up to its hybrid competition, some of which comes from its own donor company, GM?
You’ll have to click past the jump to find out.
There is really nothing special going on with the outside of the 2013 VTRUX Suburban, as it is exactly identical to the Chevy and GMC Suburban, sans a slight grille modification. Just like the base VIA VTRUX pickup, you can only get the Suburban in three different colors: white, black, and red. You also get the base-level Suburban rims, as far as we can see.
As time goes on and we get close to the Via VTRUX Suburban’s release, we may find out that there are a few options to choose from at the higher level, but for now, VIA is only showing one model.
VIA Motors has not released any information regarding this SUV’s interior. We do assume that it includes the basic features of a Chevy Suburban, including: cloth seats, power windows and door locks, power mirrors, and an AM/FM/CD stereo system.
We’ll update you with more interior information closer to its release date.
Engine and Drivetrain
This is where the VTRUX Suburban will make its mark. It features an electric motor that powers the rear wheels, or all four wheels when fitted with four-wheel drive. This motor pushes out 402 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. As with all electric motors, the torque is essentially “on-demand,” with no real torque curve to speak of.
The batteries are 24 kWh lithium-ion cells that last up to 40 miles on their own. Once the batteries are depleted, a GM 4.3-liter Vortec engine takes over and generates power to charge the batteries. The engine does not drive the wheels at all. In fact, the engine does not even connect to the wheels in any way. The engine is set at its optimal speed for charging and efficiency to extend the batteries.
The VTRUX Suburban boasts up to 40 miles of electric-only range when the batteries are fully charged. After that the engine turns on and it has a sliding scale of fuel economy from there. The scale is as follows.
| Miles || MPG |
| 40 miles || Battery Only |
| 50 miles || 67 mpg |
| 60 miles || 48 mpg |
| 100 miles || 30 mpg |
| 200 miles and up || 24 mpg |
Even at its worst, the VTRUX Suburban beats the gasoline-only Suburban by 3 mpg.
In addition to the engine’s generator charging the batteries, it also has an external power outlet that allows you to use the truck’s generator just like a portable generator. This provides a total of 50 kW of power on an on-demand basis.
Unfortunately, there is no charging time given for the SUV, but VIA does mention that they offer a 240-volt charging station that will cut charging times in half.
The VTRUX lineup is currently set up to sell only to fleet customers interested in 50 or more trucks. In this bulk, VIA will sell the VTRUX Suburban for just $79,000.
The closest competitor we can come up with is the 2012 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, despite the fact that the Tahoe is smaller than the Suburban. The Tahoe runs about $52,000 and boasts a 6.0-liter V-8 engine with hybrid technology. The Tahoe’s engine and hybrid system punch out a respectable 392 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque, which compete well with the VTRUX Suburban. In gas mileage, however, the Tahoe comes up short, getting just 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Sure, you pay a lot more for the VTRUX, but you get a ton more miles per gallon.
In all, we love what the VIA VTRUX Suburban has to offer, but are still a little leery on its pricing, as the $79,000 price given is based on buying 50 units. VIA will release non-bulk pricing eventually, but look for it to increase an additional $5,000 to $10,000. On the good side, it has unbeatable fuel economy and a very suitable drivetrain, which includes one of the most powerful electric motors that we have seen on an EV to date. If your fleet is looking for EV SUVs, we definitely suggest snagging up 50, or more, of these Suburbans. However, if you are looking to just buy one, we suggest letting the market on EV SUVs stabilize before making any moves.
Electric-only power up to 40 miles
Built-in generator that has external power
30 mpg up to 200 miles
$79,000 is a tough----to swallow
Fleet ricing is all that’s available
Looks to have very limited options