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Verizon tests VIA's extended-range electric vans, trucks

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The effort will focus on benchmarking how electric models can handle the heavy cargo loads of typical teleco repair vehicles.

Verizon plans to test electric vehicles from VIA Motors as part of its ongoing effort to improve the efficiency of its service fleet. The move is especially notable, given the fact that cargo vans and pickup trucks are two of the most widely used vehicle formats in the telecommunications company's fleet. They often carry heavy equipment and components used for repairs, which makes it tougher to convert them over to an electric format in a cost-effective manner.

The vehicles boost an all-electric range of about 40 miles, using VIA Motors's proprietary eREV power train and advanced lithium-ion batteries that can be charged overnight using a 110-volt household outlet. VIA Motors includes an onboard range extender for adding more miles to that equation. The vehicles have been tested to show a range of 100 miles per gallon equivalent, according to the VIA Motors press release about the Verizon project. That could improve the efficiency of the vehicle class by up to 300 percent.

In addition, Verizon said it may be able to consider the vehicles as a back-up power source to keep repair tools charge or even to help charge the network during emergency situations.

"We anticipate that by demonstrating substantial operational savings through this project, Verizon will lead the way for many other fleets, demonstrating that going green actually saves money," said VIA Motors CEO Kraig Higginson, in a statement.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure