On the Amp: Saturn Sky EV Conversion

I kind of found out about this great electric sports car on a whim.  Here is the Youtube video I came across a moment ago:

I went to the Amp Motorworks website and found out the EV conversion had impressive specs, 0-60 in 5.7 seconds, top speed of 90 mph, and 150 mile EV range. All you need to do is provide them with a Saturn Sky and $25,000 for the conversion. Really, this is a deal for a fully capable, electric sports car that could give the Tesla Roadster a decent scare on the track. The entire EV is less than $60,000 when you factor in the $26,000 retail value of a Saturn Sky. They will also “warrant the batteries, drive motors, and conversion components for 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.” Amp Motorworks is limiting this initial project to 300 buyers only, and are only accepting orders in the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio area.

Update on BG Automotive

I have some more info on BG Automotive and an official press release. The official name of their upcoming NEV will be the BG C100. While the first C100 will be available in November of this year, the vehicles will not be ready to be delivered to the mass market until the first quarter of 2009. The BG 100 will be a low-speed vehicle, but it will be the safest NEV on the market, with duel airbags and a heavy steel body, as opposed to fiberglass, plastic, or carbon fiber. For more information go to www.bgelectriccars.com.

Official Press Release: Oct. 3, 2008

First Mass-Produced Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Available for Sale in North America

PHILADELPHIA, October 3, 2008 – The future of transportation has arrived, and the outlook is even greener than before: it’s safe, affordable and electric. With the release of the new neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), the C100, BG Automotive Group, Ltd. (BG) is giving a hopeful solution to the energy crisis in today’s economy. As gas prices rise people are forced to choose between buying gas and food or prescription drugs. A solution is now available to curb our dependence on foreign oil, and BG Automotive Group, Ltd. is now ready to market the C100 for delivery first quarter 2009.

“Rising gas prices and the state of the economy make it the right time to introduce the C100, America’s first mass produced Neighborhood Electric Vehicle,” said Barry Bernsten, president of BG Automotive Group. “There is a growing demand for fuel-free vehicles and the C100 addresses those demands.”

These cars are both environmentally sensitive and cost-efficient, starting at just $15,995 and ranging up to $17,995 depending on options and battery configuration. The C100 is a four-door, five-passenger hatchback that produces no noise, no emissions and no pollution. Currently, no other company offers NEVs that will be mass-produced and can be purchased by consumers at such a low price.

Depending upon the state, the C100 is legal to travel on roads with posted speed limits of 35-45 mph. It takes approximately eight hours to charge using a 110-volt outlet (four hours with a 220-volt outlet), meaning it can be plugged into any outlet without special equipment. BG also offers a rapid-charging device that reduces charging time by 50%. The car will be able to travel 50-120 miles per charge depending on the vehicle’s battery configuration and driving conditions.

This NEV can seat five passengers comfortably and is available in black, white, silver, red, blue, yellow, olive green, lime green and copper. In addition to dual airbags, each model comes fully loaded with modern comforts such as climate control, AM/FM stereo and CD player. Each car will also have an in-dash 8G
i-Phone (upgrade to 16G is available) for music, navigation and hands free telephone capabilities. Other similar branded devices will be available for installation in the C100 in-dash charging units.

The C100 is ideal for individuals that reside in shore and golf communities or other suburban areas with travel needs that are close to home. Parking authority attendants and other governmental agencies also find this as an ideal eco-friendly vehicular alternative. In fact many states are adapting new legislation that require a specific percentage of their fleets to be electric.

At the current cost of gas1, if consumers drive 10,000 miles in an EV they will save an average of $2,000 per year. Hybrid vehicles are currently priced around $23,000 to $75,000—and require gas to operate and consequently still emit pollutants into the air. Not only are hybrids more expensive, but also are more harmful to the environment. As far as paying for electricity—electric cars cost 2-3 cents per mile to operate. If a consumer travels 20 miles per day for 30 days at $0.03/mile, that is equivalent to paying $18 in electricity costs per month.

The C100 is both cost efficient and safe. If a customer is not completely satisfied with the C100, BG Automotive Group will offer a full money-back guarantee on all its NEVs.

BG is committed to the manufacturing, continued development and advancement of the world’s safest NEVs. Equipped with dual airbags, the C100 is the safest Neighborhood Electric Vehicle currently in production, exceeding all Department of Transportation/National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (DOT/NHTSA) requirements.

“BG did not want to meet the minimum safety requirements, we wanted to exceed them,” said Bernsten. BG is committed to producing the safest NEV in the world.

The first C100 will be available early November 2008. For more information and to reserve your car, visit BGelectricCars.com. A schedule of where to test drive and view the C100 will be available on the website in the near future.

BG AUTOMOTIVE GROUP, LTD.: BG Automotive Group, Ltd. is committed to the manufacturing, continued development and advancement of the world’s safest electric vehicles. The company has leveraged 33 years of International Trading and Industrial Project Development to secure manufacturing contracts and financing necessary to make NEVs an affordable, mass-produced reality for the US consumer. For more information please visit BGelectricCars.com.

On Shai Agassi and Better Place

Shai Agassi

In May of 2007, Shai Agassi launched Project Better Place. He had no cars, no test sites, no electrical engineering experience, and no automobile experience. All he had was a vision of an electric automobile charging infrastructure that would allow EVs to finally proliferate. By early summer of this year, Agassi had two countries volunteering for the plan, a major automaker, Renault/Nissan, producing cars, and $200 million in committed capital. Better Place has become the fifth largest startup ever created.

Agassi did not work alone. Shimon Peres, now the president of Isreal, called Agassi in the middle of the night a few years ago, convincing him to leave his position at SAP and make his electric car dream a reality. Most startups test their product before they make any big releases. Better World’s beta tester happens to be the nation of Isreal. Since it is small, and surrounded by water on one side and enemies on the other, the farthest someone can drive is about 250 miles in any direction. Peres helped reduce the car tax from 78 percent to 10 percent on zero-emission vehicles. Agassi posits that the tax revenue loss of $700 million would be more than refunded in money saved from importing less foreign oil. In January 2008, the Israeli government announced its support for a broad effort to promote the use of electric cars with Project Better Place.

Next, Agassi needed someone to build the car. While still working at SAP, Agassi met Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan and Renault. Ghosn was looking for a way to beat other auto companies in the race to provide a gas alternative automobile. Well, now that Agassi had a country willing to provide a grid and $200 million raised to fund the project, Renault hopped on board. Agassi promises 50 Renault prototypes this winter in Isreal and Renault promises to have an electric car on the market by 2011. Better Place hopes to have 100,000 vehicles operating by the end of 2011. And these are going to be highway speed EV’s that will be indiscernible aesthetically and performance wise from regular, internal combustion vehicles. Better Place’s first prototype is a 2005 Renault Megane:
Better Place Renault

Agassi will not disclose the other automakers he is currently in talks with, but Daimler is rumored to be talking with Better Place.

The company plans to implement the project in Denmark as well, where they are working on a partnership with Danish oil firm and utility DONG Energy. Denmark produces more energy than it needs, with 18% coming from wind. So they are actually giving away their access power to Germany and Sweden. What electric cars and charging stations provide, is a way to utilize and store this access power.

Agassi is also working to implement the project in the US, in Hawaii, which spends $62 billion importing oil to the islands. Hawaii’s business and political leaders seem sold on the idea, and just want to know if they are making electric convertibles.

[Source: WIRED MAGAZINE: 16.09, Driven: Shai Agassi’s Audacious Plan to Put Electric Cars on the Road]

My opinion, Shai is a great salesman with a noble dream. The only holdup to his plan is the one he unsuccessfully tried to explain to Kansas senator Sam Brownback by stating, “We’re like AT&T, not Nokia.” I’m not a cell phone expert, but I believe what he was trying to say with this analogy is that Better Place is more of a subscription service, than a simple, pay-as-you-go deal. The infrastructure must be in place before the cars can be used. To clarify, this was after Brownback asked Shai if he could buy one of the electric cars. The charging grid in the US would be at least a hundred billion dollars to create. But it could be just the type of massive workforce mobilization the economy needs to get out of this recession. I think he is going to need a lot more help from the US government and auto manufacturers; and GM still isn’t softening up to the idea. Either way, he is generating a lot of buzz for electric cars with one prototype and a vision.

BG Automotive Starts Essembling Electric Cars

BG Automotive, a young Philadelphia company, has already started assembling low-speed (25mph max) electric vehicles that will be available as soon as, well, now.  The company website states their 4-door hatchbacks will be available “Oct/Nov/Dec 2008”.  The BG NEV will be roughly $16,000. However, it will not be legal in Pennsylvania until the state senate breaks from its election recess and passes Senate Bill 152.  This bill will make low-power cars street-legal in the state.  This Pennsylvania Enquirer clipping has more info. Company owner Barry Bernsten, says their NEV will have a steel body, unlike a lot of other NEVs, so it shouldn’t have trouble meeting safety requirements. If the bill is not passed, BG will have to ship its vehicles out of state. With a lot of states allowing tractors and other farm equipment on their roads, there really is no reason why NEVs should not be allowed.

Jay Leno and the 1909 Baker Electric Car

This is my favorite Jay Leno’s Garage, even better than his episode with the Tesla Roadster. It’s inspiring. This is a vehicle that is 100 years old, requires very little upkeep, runs smoothly and silently, and has a 110 mile ev range. The technology has always been there. Even the original batteries still work. I could go on and on; see for yourself:

On the Lumeneo Smera

Lumeneo Smera

I must say, there are a lot of great things coming from France in the electric car world. Take, for example, the Lumeneo Smera. It is a hybrid of two concepts demonstrated in the Tango and the VentureOne. This in-line two-seater will tilt into turns, enhancing maneuverability and create an exciting driving experience.  The Smera will have a top speed of 80 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 8.0 seconds, and a 90 mile ev range.  Lumeneo’s complete specifications are listed in the table below.  Lumeneo plans to producer 250 units in 2009 for the European market.  Price is in the range of 30 to 40,000 euros.

Here is the official Lumeneo promotional video:

Lumeneo Smera Specifications from Lumeneo Website:

Doors / Seats 2 / 1+1
Length / width / height 2380 / 800 / 1450

(8 /2.6/4.8)

mm /feet
Wheelbase 1700 / 5.7 mm /feet
Track 655 / 2.1 mm /feet
Steering diameter 7 / 23.3 m /feet
Maximum tilting angle 25 °
Boot volume 70 / 150 liters
Weight (with batteries) 350 / 770 kg / lbs
Pneumatic dimensions 145/70 R14
Technology Brushless electric motors with permanent magnets
Max Power 30 / 40 kW / Hp
Max Torque on wheels 1 000 Nm
Max Voltage 144 V
Technology Lithium
Capacity 10 kWh
Battery weight ~80 / 180 kg / lbs
Max speed 130 / 80 kph / mph
0-100 kph / 0 – 60 mph 8.0 s
RANGE 150 / 90 km / miles