PG&E celebrated National Plug-In Day on Sunday (Sept. 23) by showcasing its extended-range electric truck with manufacturer VIA Motors.
The utility took part in events in San Francisco and San Rafael (sponsored by the Golden Gate Electric Vehicle Association) and in Cupertino (sponsored by the Silicon Valley Electric Auto Association) to highlight the clean-air benefits and cost savings of electric vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, scooters and bikes. Those who attended also test drove the vehicles.
This was the second National Plug-In Day, which held gatherings in 60 U.S. cities—double last year’s event.
For PG&E, an added benefit to its VTrux vehicle is its ability to serve as a mobile generator.
“VIA’s new truck has the potential to radically transform the electric utility business,” said Dave Meisel, director of transportation services for PG&E. “Not only will it deliver fuel-cost savings and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, it could potentially alter the way we provide electricity to our customers.”
The first-generation trucks have 15-kilowatt capacity, roughly the equivalent of a generator for a small or medium house. That amount could increase in future models. Ultimately, the trucks could act as a backup power sources to shorten planned or unplanned outages and boost the electric grid when needed.
With a 402-horsepower electric motor and lithium-ion batteries, the vehicles have an electric range of up to 40 miles. Then, their gasoline engine allows them to travel 350 more miles. Each of the trucks could save PG&E $2,700 a year in fuel costs.
PG&E’s transportation fleet includes 3,100 alternative-fuel and high-efficiency vehicles, including compressed natural gas, bio-diesel, electric and hybrid units. Since 1995, its fleet has helped prevent more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
PG&E joined with VIA Motors in 2008 to develop the extended-range electric vehicle. Last year, the utility tested two of the trucks and based on the positive results received the first pre-production models of the VTrux this month. Full-production models will be available in early 2013.