pg&e_blackout(2).jpgPG&E officials unveiled in San Francisco Thursday new extended-range electric pickup trucks that they say will provide mobile power to manage power outages while also reducing costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

The trucks, part of a partnership with VIA Motors, feature an onboard gas-electric generator with a 15-kilowatt capacity, allowing the utility to temporarily energize a power line during an outage, minimizing the disruption to customers.

PG&E senior vice president Greg Pruett said the announcement this morning is “truly a revolutionary moment for us” and “akin to what the cellphone did for the telecommunications industry.”

The utility received the first two vehicles from VIA Motors this week and will be testing them throughout this year, with plans to buy 400 to 500 of the trucks per year starting next year.

The trucks cost about $79,000 per vehicle, but Pruett said each vehicle is expected to save PG&E about $2,700 annually in fuel and upkeep costs.

The trucks, which were first unveiled at an auto show in Detroit earlier this year, run for the first 40 miles on battery, then continue to drive on electricity from the gas-electric generator for 400 miles or more, according to the utility.

Bob Lutz, a member of the board of directors at VIA Motors, called the partnership between the company and PG&E “a major step forward” and shows that “electrification of the automobile industry is now well on its way.”

Lutz said, “Electricity is one of the lowest costing of alternative fuels, with the largest installed infrastructures, which makes it the ideal alternative to fossil fuels.”

PG&E officials say the trucks will achieve zero emissions on half of the miles driven on typical routes by its pickup fleet and improve gas fuel economy by more than 100 percent.

The utility already has more than 1,200 alternative fuel vehicles in its fleet, including hybrid and electric passenger cars and large trucks that burn natural gas.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

Want more news, sent to your inbox every day? Then how about subscribing to our email newsletter? Here’s why we think you should. Come on, give it a try.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!