With his fast quips and tradition of stunts — like driving what was then the new Jeep Grand Cherokee through a plate glass window with former Detroit mayor Coleman Young in the passenger seat — Bob Lutz has been an irrepressible spirit at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) right from its birth as the world premier auto show back in the late 1980s.
This year promises to be no different. Lutz is in line to pick up a new honor on Tuesday during the Eyes on Design awards ceremony – and though he “retired” from General Motors in mid-2010, Lutz has remained an active force in the industry and will be on hand to unveil a new vehicle from his partnership with VIA Motors during this year’s Detroit Auto Show.
Barely a month shy of his 81st birthday, Lutz will unveil an electric 800 horsepower truck and 100+mpg electric Escalade during the NAIAS, according to a twitter feed from VIA. ”Fisker & #Tesla are close to becoming household names, #ViaMotors is 3rd player in #EV market,” Lutz declared from his Twitter feed.
The former Marine pilot is something of a conundrum, a consistent skeptic of global warming who is also one of the industry’s more active proponents of battery power – Lutz credited with conceiving the idea of the Chevrolet Volt which, true to form, he first outlined on the back of a cocktail napkin.
Since leaving GM he has been involved in a variety of projects, including the start-up NanoSteel Corp., and Via which was founded in 2010 in Orem, Utah. Lutz has used his connections and his affinity for the media to get the battery car company some choice publicity, including an episode of Jay Lenos’ Garage that focused on the VIA VTRUX.
“This is more or less a truck version of the Chevy Volt,” Lutz told Leno. “It gets incredible gas mileage. If you run power tools, you can run it off the generator,” chimed in Leno, “It’s electricity when you want it and gas when you need it.”
With an electric-only car, Jay said he could either take his wife to the hospital or go to the mall, but he couldn’t do both in the same day. With the VTRUX, range doesn’t become a limitation.
“It’s what we call an extended-range electric vehicle. It has 40 miles purely electric drive,” said Lutz, “and a small V6 generator set that can give you another 400 miles. That generator can also run all your power tools and, in the case of a power outage, you can run your whole household off of your pickup truck. In mixed driving, this thing will average about 100 mpg,” Lutz said.
VIA Motors is a privately held electric vehicle development and manufacturing company. It has developed what it describes as a streamlined second stage manufacturing process to integrate its proprietary V-DRIVE power train into new vehicles from other manufacturers, then sells directly to fleets under the VTRUX brand name. VIA VTRUX can deliver up to 40-mile battery range and unlimited extended range, averaging over 100 mpg in typical daily driving, according to company officials.
Lutz is in line to receive the new Design Catalyst award from Eyes on Design for his forthright leadership and passion in helping to transform the global automotive industry. The Award will be presented on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, at a special ceremony in Cobo Center during the Detroit Auto Show.
The Design Catalyst Award honors an individual who recognizes and enables great design in the global automotive industry. Lacks Enterprises, Inc. is the lead sponsor of the new Design Catalyst Award, one of the prestigious EyesOn Design Awards.
Tags: 2013 detroit auto show, 2013 north american international auto show, Chevrolet Volt, NAIAS, auto news, battery trucks, bob lutz, car news, electric vehicles, joe szczesny, lutz detroit auto show, lutz via motors, plug-in hybrid truck, thedetroitbureau, via truk