Raser Technologies, an electric motor manufacturer, announced today that it is partnering with Pacific Gas & Electric to develop a plug-in electric hybrid truck that would operate much like Chevy’s upcoming Volt passenger car or Ian Wright's proposed plug-in pickup.
"We think this would be a terrific application for fleet buyers and consumers who need pickup trucks," says Raser spokesman Richard Putnam.
The company is looking to insert its system into existing trucks like a Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado and says it will be able to travel 40 miles on a full electric charge. Once that charge is depleted a gasoline engine/generator will kick in to recharge the electric motor for another 300 miles of range according to the company’s estimation. There was no mention of towing or hauling capacity.
Raser will build and supply the 200 kW AC induction motor, 100 kW generator and electronic controllers needed to transform the trucks into serial hybrids.
Raser’s press release says its demonstration vehicle was "built in cooperation with a leading global OEM, using the same drive system." We're wondering if this would be GM since it's estimated range is nearly identical to Raser’s and in a company document a lightly disguised Silverado is shown as the basis of the truck.
The cost of outfitting trucks for such a system would likely be prohibitive for most consumers, but Raser will initially look to sell to corporate and government fleets looking to offset high fuel costs. Raser says using its future truck would cut operational fuel costs by up to 75%. The company is already working on an SUV prototype using the same hybrid system, but we’re unsure who they would sell such a vehicle to, perhaps law enforcement?
While the idea of an all-electric truck certainly makes sense for fleets, we wonder if the average truck buyer would be swayed enough by the fuel savings to overlook performance and a higher MSRP if a plug-in electric truck were to be sold to consumers.