Although the production launch of his company's line of extended range electric pickup trucks and vans will likely be the focus of VIA Motors' Chairman Bob Lutz at the LA Auto Show later this week, one optional extra has already caught our eye. The company has also revealed a solar panel tonneau cover that will add an extra 10 miles (16 km) of range to its eREV40 electric pickup truck.

Lutz is formerly the Chairman of General Motors where he oversaw the development of the Volt before joining VIA Motors in 2011. He still retains a link to his former employer with VIA Motors sourcing basic vehicles from GM and pairing their combustion engines with an electric generator to form an extended range electric-drive (eREV) powertrain.

VIA Motors' vehicle lineup, which include pick up trucks, an SUV and a van, can drive for 40 miles (64 km) in all-electric mode before turning to the combustion engine for a total range of 400 miles (644 km) on a single tank.

The solar panel tonneau cover on display in LA is designed to fit over the rear bed of VIA Motors' extended cab truck and, according to VP of Sales, Mark Burdge, adds an additional 10 miles (16 km) to the vehicle's all-electric range. Burdge couldn't provide detailed specs of the tonneau cover, but said attaching it or removing it would be a two-person job.

At the moment, VIA Motors is only taking orders for its vehicles from fleet customers, but expects to begin retail sales by mid 2014. The solar tonneau cover will be available as a US$2,000 option.

Source: VIA Motors