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TheStreet Open House

PG&E And VIA Motors Showcase A First For Utilities: Extended-Range Electric Sport Utility Vehicles And Vans

Stocks in this article: PCG

DETROIT, Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- One year after introducing the first extended-range electric pickup truck for utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and VIA Motors today showcased the utility industry's first extended-range electric sport utility vehicles and cargo vans. Both offer PG&E the potential to provide mobile, on-site power to help manage electric outages and minimize disruptions for customers.

These Extended-Range Electric Vehicles, or eREVs, currently feature 15-kilowatts (kW) of power capacity, enough to serve the needs of a medium-sized house. A utility-grade output module, now in development, will provide 50 kW of mobile emergency power to keep critical facilities online.

"VIA's new vehicles have the potential to transform the way we at PG&E manage electrical outages, and to help us provide safer, more reliable service for our customers," said PG&E Senior Vice President Greg Pruett. "We're excited about our ongoing work with VIA Motors as we develop new and innovative ways to green our utility fleet."

In 2008, PG&E partnered with VIA Motors to develop the first eREV pickup truck. The two companies unveiled the trucks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2012. 

"VIA's partnership with PG&E, and the introduction of the world's first extended-range electric work trucks, SUVs, and cargo vans in their fleet, marks a turning point in the electrification of the industry's fleets," said VIA Motors Board of Directors Member Bob Lutz. "As the world becomes more aware of the economic advantages of this ultra-clean technology, I am convinced that this type of electric vehicle will become very popular with consumers as well, and will help end our dependence on oil. It's good for business, good for the environment and good for America."

The eREV models run the first 40 miles on batteries, then continue to drive on electricity generated from an onboard gas-electric generator for 400 miles or more. By driving primarily on electricity, the vehicles can more than double gas fuel economy and achieve zero emissions on 50 percent of the miles driven on typical fleet routes. For electric utilities, the electrified vehicles can provide on-site power to help shorten small outages, eliminate some planned outages for maintenance, and boost the electric grid when needed.

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