Rowan Horncastle16 January 2013

VIA Motors X-Truck

Not content with a V8-powered Fisker Karma, Bob Lutz has put his name to a 800hp, 100mpg pickup

‘Maximum' Bob Lutz isn't your normal octogenarian. When he's not flying around in his ex-communist-bloc Aero L-39 Albatros fighter jet, he's still making changes to the car industry.

Earlier this week we showed you his latest project: fitting a ruddy great 6.2-litre Chevy V8 inside the previously eco-friendly Fisker Karma. But the man who had a large hand in shaping America's path into fuel efficiency with the Chevy Volt/Vauxhall Ampera hasn't lost his green fingers.

No, Bob's now cleaning up the utility industry by introducing the first extended-range electric pickup trucks - which just happen to have 800 horsepower and can do 100mpg.

Via Motors, a company he's backing, unveiled this at the Detroit Motor Show: the X-Truck Concept. It may look like a re-bodied and beefed up Chevy Silverado on the outside - which it is - but underneath there's a plug-in hybrid powertrain. So it works along the same lines as a Volt or Ampera.

There are two 402 horsepower electric motors that power the car: a 24-kWh, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack and a 5.3-litre GM V8. The engine isn't the main source of power, but just comes in to play when the battery is down to 20 percent state-of-charge. Then that big V8 will kick in to power you along and charge up the pack. When the battery is back up to 25 percent, the V8 pipes back down again and you're cruising solely on electricity.

Via claim that you can achieve "over 100mpg in typical local daily driving" by utilising the electric motors rather than that big, thirsty V8. But if you're anything like us, with 800hp on tap, that could be quite a challenge.

So dot commers, what do you think ‘Maximum' Bob should do next?

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