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Lutz plugs anti-wimp hybrid trucks

Auto veteran Bob Lutz promotes full-size trucks, vans, SUVs converted by Via to extended-range electric hybrids at Detroit auto show

DETROIT — Introduced by a hologram of Thomas Edison and preceded by a pair of acrobats, crusty auto veteran Bob Lutz took to the stage at the North American International Auto Show to promote Via Motors’ conversions of full-size GM trucks to plug-in hybrids for commercial customers.

The outspoken Lutz, retired from his post as GM Vice Chairman, now is a board member at Via. At GM he squired the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric into the market. The Via system is similar. When the batteries run low, and there’s no handy place to plug in the charger, a gas engine kicks in to keep the charge up.

Early customers include Verizon and Pacific Gas and Electric.

Three converted GM trucks were at the Via display, a pickup, a van and an SUV. All have a claimed electric-only range of 35 miles, enough for commercial applications where long-distance travel is rare.
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