Stumbling from booth to booth at the annual SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show, one can typically find grown gearheads trembling and giggling like little girls at the sight of chrome wheels, shiny superchargers and raucous exhausts.
But this year was a bit different . . .
Ensconced in the middle of an anxious crowd of onlookers was something as foreign to this group as Dick Cheney at a PETA meeting.
Instead of a blown, low slung rat-rod or bright red prancing Italian stallion or some jacked up monstrosity of a truck sat—of all things—a new electric vehicle that has just changed the rules of the game.
Stealing the glory from the testosterone laced mobile cod pieces was Phoenix Motorcars’ new sport utility truck.
Truly a real-life case of “revenge of the nerds,” this truck has enough technology to make any pocket-protecting geek smile as wide as his dickies-wearing, steel-toed, diesel-guzzlin’ brethren.
And Phoenix Motorcars’ CEO, Dan Elliot, knows full well that his company has finally hit the sweet spot for electric vehicle acceptance:
“The Phoenix Motorcars sport utility trucks and vehicles astound people because these vehicles are full-sized vehicles which carry five people at freeway speeds, unlike the public perception of an electric vehicle which is a golf-cart sized, low-speed, two-passenger vehicle. There is tremendous pent-up demand for a real zero emission, all-electric vehicle and we are well positioned to satisfy this market demand.”
All Charged Up!
The company’s secret to success lies in the battery compartment.
You see, traditional lithium-ion batteries run using graphite. And graphite requires long charging hours and has a nasty tendency to burst into flames. Remember the Dell recall?
So, with the help of Altairnano (ALTI:NASDAQ), Phoenix Motorcars has acquired a lithium-ion battery that replaces the graphite with nano-titanate.
According to Altairnano CEO, Dr. J. Gotcher, “The launch of this all-electric SUT represents the next phase of our relationship with Phoenix Motorcars and Boshart Engineering. This SUT is a strong ideal platform for fleet sales, combining an extensive driving range with an environmentally friendly and safe power system using the NanoSafe batteries.”
This breakthrough gives the SUT a 100-mile range, 6 to 8 hour recharge time, a 12-year life span and, best of all, the cost of recharging the battery is only about $3.00.
Unlike some older electric vehicles, very little is sacrificed for zero emissions. Almost every amenity found in a quality luxury vehicle can be found in a Phoenix Motorcar.
The performance is not mind-blowing, but it is nothing to scoff at either. The standard Enova (ENA:AMEX) motor’s horsepower output is 120 and torque weighs in at a light 170 ft. lbs. With that kind of power you’re looking at 60 mph in about 10 seconds.
If that isn’t enough for you, they have a motor upgrade option provided by UQM Technologies (UQM:AMEX) that will up your torque number to 405 ft. lbs.
While their SUTs and SUVs are perfect for fleet use and daily chores, they have a 1937 body style coupe convertible in the works . . . and it is drop-dead gorgeous. It has very convincing body lines and the only sign of its electric power plant is its lack of exhaust pipes.
The company also has ten new platforms in development.
Phoenix’s SUT is currently going for about $45,000. But we expect to see that price drop dramatically over the next few years as production increases.
In 2007 management expects to produce 500–1,000 vehicles, with an expansion goal of 10,000 by 2008.
The SUV will be available in the latter part of ’07, and the ’37 coupe is still in the works.