Drivers are always on the lookout for ways to save money in the operation and maintenance of a vehicle, if only so they can devote more funds to truck mods and similar upgrades. The possibility of driving electric cars is one area motorists may consider, but this option left many fans of off-roading in the dust - until now.
Production of electric trucks begins
VIA Motors announced that it has signed a contract to produce $20 million worth of electric pickup trucks and vans. While these would be light-duty vehicles, there would be plenty of options for truck modifications and upgrades that could transform the truck into a solid option for recreational or off-road driving.
"The pickup truck is the No. 1 selling vehicle in America, and VIA Motors is the only automaker building electric light-duty pickup trucks, cargo vans and passenger vans," said Alan Perriton, president of VIA Motors. "The all-in cost is actually lower than driving a gas truck; this is very welcome news to budget-constrained fleets who spend more and more each year on ever-increasing gas prices, who can now save money."
Cutting down on gas money isn't the only reason motorists may be drawn to an electric vehicle. The trucks will also reduce harmful emissions, which helps preserve and protect the very environment they are often driving through. Creations from VIA have also shown the ability to decrease gas consumption and emissions by as much as 80 percent in early testing. That is a considerable amount that could make a big difference for cash-strapped truck drivers.
These efforts are still in the beginning stages, but interested parties will be able to gather more information from the technology being installed on each vehicle. Every device will transmit real-time data that will allow the U.S. Department of Energy to track savings in both fuel economy and emissions.
Electric versus diesel vehicles
One of the biggest sources of controversy surrounding electric pickup trucks is how they compare to diesel-powered vehicles. If the costs are similar, many drivers may be more likely to gravitate to an automobile with a diesel engine, which has a reputation for more power and a few eco-friendly attributes. However, a recent study conducted at Georgia Tech found that there are several instances where electric vehicles can save drivers a significant amount of money.
"Over the life of the truck, there are many situations in which the total cost of operating an electric vehicle is less than operating a diesel vehicle," said Marilyn Brown, a co-author of the study. "Our expectation was that the electric vehicle would provide environmental benefits, but at a cost. We found that particularly in urban settings and in locations with relatively low greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, electric delivery trucks both save money and have environmental benefits."
The future of electric trucks
Looking to the future of electric pickup trucks is not easy, especially since so many factors are uncertain. However, that hasn't stopped some experts from considering whether or not these automobiles can remain a viable option for drivers.
"Technology advances make predicting the long-term price of electric trucks difficult," said Valerie Thomas, another co-author and professor at the Georgia Tech. "Battery price reductions down the road could have a large effect on the cost-competitiveness of electric trucks of electric trucks, while only diesel fuel prices could have a similarly large effect on the future cost-competitiveness of diesel trucks."
The production of electric pickups by VIA Motors is just the beginning of alternative off-road vehicles. If the light-duty pickups are successful, the technology could soon spread to more rugged models and brands, improving in ways that will ensure drivers don't miss a beat when they set out on off-road trails.