2009: Year of the Electric Car ?  

Posted by Big Gav in

EV World has an article on the prospects for the electric car industry this year - 2009: Year of the Electric Car.

Just when you thought there was no help on the horizon to ease your "pain at the pump", a century-old technology is about to re-emerge as a petroleum-free solution that will be amazingly cheap to operate, literally in the pennies-per-day.

Meet the new electric cars of the 21st Century. Although they will initially appear in limited numbers and likely in restricted regions of the US while manufacturers, dealers and customers get comfortable with the technology, here is some of what you can expect to begin rolling down America roads starting in 2009.

Miles XS500

One of the first full-functioning electric cars that is slated to appear in 2009 here in America is the Miles XS500, a five-passenger, four-door sedan currently undergoing crash certification to meet U.S. safety standards. The Chinese-manufactured, battery-powered car will offer all the amenities and performance Americans have come to expect from a gasoline car in the same class. Its only limitation, as with all electric cars, is its range, aimed at around 120-plus miles using lithium-ion iron phosphate cells -- a lower temperature and presumably safer battery chemistry than higher energy cobalt-based cells. The company plans beta tests of the vehicle in early summer 2009, with production sales to begin sometime in the 4th quarter. Initial pricing is targeted at $35,000 to $40,000.

Think A306

Following closely on Miles bumper is the long-labored Th!nk A306, originally re-engineered by Ford Motor Company from an earlier Norwegian-designed electric car. Where the XS500 is like your standard family sedan, the A306 is a sprightly two-seater in the same vein as the Mercedes Smart car. A U.S.-destined version is slated to arrive in late 2009. The current version is powered by a sodium-based battery that delivers a top speed of 100 km/hr (63 mpg) and a range of 110 miles. The U.S. version is slated to be equipped with more powerful lithium ion batteries that will likely boost its top speed and improve its range. The price target is in the mid-$20,000 range.

BYD E6

BYD is a Chinese cellphone battery maker-turned-auto manufacturer. They have developed two electric-drive vehicles, a plug-in hybrid akin to the Chevy Volt now in development at GM, and the E6 electric car. The company claims that its battery technology will be good for the equivalent of a couple hundred thousand miles of operation. It hopes to have both cars on the market by 2009, but has not said when it will sell them in North America.

Phoenix Motors

A small southern California start-up excited the electric car world when it introduced an all-electric conversion of a Korean-built SUV and pickup using cutting edge Altairnano lithium ion batteries that can be fast charged in minutes. It hopes to begin limited deliver of vehicles to California customers in 2009, with wider sales after that. The current price tag is around $45,000. The vehicle has top speed of 90 mph and an advertised range of 130 miles on a charge.

Tesla Roadster

If money is no object, but speed and excitement are, then the Tesla Roadster is what you're looking for. This two-seat, all-electric sports car can lay claim to nearly single-handely reviving the fortunes of electric cars with its blistering 0-to-60 acceleration of under 4 seconds, a top speed of 130 mph and a range of 220 miles. Priced at $100,000, it's a limited production car, the first 600 of which have already been spoken for.

Pininfarina B0 (zero)

Pininfarina is best known for designing some of the world's sexiest and expensive sports cars, but it recently teamed up with French battery maker Bolloré to jointly develop an electric car that the company reports it wants to sell in America, and elsewhere, starting in 2010.

Mitsubishi iMiEV

Many mainline manufacturers are also working on electric cars including Mitsubishi, which has been perfecting an electric version of its 'i' car. The electric version of four-door subcompact sedan has better performance than its gasoline engine counterpart. Mitsuibishi will beginning selling small numbers of the i MiEV in Japan with US sales likely in subsequent years. A few prototypes are slated to take part in U.S. demonstration trials starting this year.

Cleantech.com reports that the chances of Think selling their electric cars in the US appear slim at the moment - Think halts electric car production, plans layoffs.
Another electric car maker has announced layoffs after trouble securing financing. Oslo, Norway's electric car maker Think Global said it has halted production, with plans to lay off more than half its 250 employees if a funding source isn't secured by mid-January.

The company hopes to resume production in the first quarter of 2009 on the Think City vehicle, which is already for sale in Oslo.

CEO Richard Canny said this week that, to continue operations, Think needs as much as 280 million kroner ($40 million) from the government in the form of loan guarantees, credit or capital in exchange for a stake in the company. Norwegian government officials said they have no plans to offer state aid.

The global credit crunch has made it difficult for Think to secure financing. Additionally, parts suppliers are demanding upfront payments, the company said. In a release, the company said it had "limited possibilities for funding working capital through bank credits without extra guarantees in today's financial markets."

1 comments

It does seem like 2009 will be the year of the EV, with ZAP who already has the Xebra sedan and truck, the XL truck and the ZAPINO in production will soon be adding to its range of EVs: The ZAP Alias will be hitting the market soon; their extended range, high speed sports car.

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