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Electric trucks roll in power after natural disasters

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In the aftermath of Sandy, the worst storm to hit the east coast in decades, the question has become, "Is there a technology that could provide enough electricity of power a home in an emergency?"

VIA Motors extended range electric pick up truck offers 120V and 240V outlets that can power jobsite tools or even a home in an emergency. Credit: VIA Motors

The answer may very well exist in extended range electric pick-up trucks.

VIA Motors new electric trucks are equipped with a power export option that can provide enough electricity to power a home in an emergency, the company claims, including sump pumps, power tools, lights, stoves, heaters, computers and other equipment needed to keep buildings running and homes and families safe.

VIA's electrified pick up trucks, vans and SUVs operate similarly to the Chevy Volt and are equipped with a gas-electric generator to extend electric driving beyond battery range. The same generator that recharges the batteries while driving, also powers the 110V and 220V outlets installed in a port on the side of the truck.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), has been testing the new electric trucks in its California fleet. In response to Superstorm Sandy, PG&E has sent several hundred of its own utility service vehicles to east coast utilities to assist in the massive repair process.

PG&E lays claim to being the first to implement the technology.

"Not only does the extended range electric work truck reduce emissions and provide huge savings in fuel, but it can also provide emergency power to help prevent outages and speed repairs for large utilities like PG&E," said David Meisel, Director of Transportation for PG&E..

VIA is also working with the Department of Defense to test a bi-directional connection to the grid that would provide emergency power to protect vital base operations. In the future, electric vehicle batteries may offer the grid huge amounts of emergency power when needed, as a practical bi-directional connection strategy emerges, some experts say.

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