AC Propulsion(New Site, finally) technology is responsible for electric drivetrains found in the EV1, Tesla Roadster, eBox and the new Mini E, to name a few. This video mostly covers the eBox and how AC Propulsion will retrofit any combustion engine vehicle you have with their electric drivetrain, which I did not know. However, a full conversion will cost you $55,000. These drivetrains have extremely robust regenerative braking. Notice the eBox will come to a complete stop without touching the brake pedal. This ensures all of the energy from the car’s momentum is captured and put back into the battery. Also, Tom Hanks makes another guest appearance for AC Propulsion.
The eBox has been around a while, but I haven’t written an article on it yet. Mainly because the eBox is not necessarily a complete car, but an AC Propulsion electric drivetrain that is installed in a Scion xB. AC Propulsion is responsible for drivetrain technology used in the GM EV1, Tesla Roadster, Venturi Fetish, and the West Philly Hybrid X Team’s Attack, to name a just a few. Visit the AC Propulsion site for a complete list of cars utilizing their product now.
The eBox continues the AC Propulsion legacy of superior electric drivetrain technology as the only car you can actually buy from AC Propulsion itself. With a 0-60 of 7 seconds, a top speed of 90 mph, and an ev range of 120-150 miles, the eBox is one of the most advanced electric cars on the market. All of this is installed in a Scion xB that you have to buy beforehand, and give to AC Propulsion for the conversion. So the Scion will set you back $15,000 and the conversion is a pretty steep, $60,000. Undoubtedly, if AC Propulsion made this a larger operation, the price of the conversion would go down. This is the car that Tom Hanks so proudly touted a year ago:
The Scion xB body is anything but aerodynamic. Its funny to see so many electric car makers sacrifice appearance for a lower drag coefficient. The drivetrain of the eBox has so much power, it compensates, but at a price.
It is unfortunate larger auto companies don’t put money into EV projects like this one. The GM EV1 (Who Killed the Electric Car?) is a close drivetrain relative to the eBox and was discontinued in 1999. Unfortunately, we really haven’t seen any mass produced ev’s close to the standard set by the EV1 and Toyota Rav-4 EV of the 1990′s. The eBox is the closest thing we have on the roads today.
If you follow electric cars you need to be familiar with Alan Cocconi. As you can plainly see from the picture above, he’s kind of a badass. He is predominantly responsible for the technology found in the GM EV1; which was ahead of its time, or technology today is behind the times depending on how you look at it. In his garage he fabricated what was basically a 100,000 watt stereo amplifier that would allow the EV1 to travel 90 miles on a charge, go 0-60 in 7.9 seconds, and have an ungoverned top speed of 123 mph on the test track. And this was before Lithium-Ion batteries were viable; the EV1 started out with plain old Lead-Acid batteries. To this day, first generation EV1′s would still be completely cutting edge and capable electric cars. The EV1 was only leased, but estimated retail was $30,000- $40,000. This lease agreement allowed GM to take them back to be subsequently crushed, but we got the movie, Who Killed the Electric Car?, out of the whole ordeal.
Anyways, so what happened to Alan? Well he’s still in the electric car business. Unfortunately he has not been contracted to work on major project to the extent he did at GM. But the company he founded in 1992, AC Propulsion, is a major player in the electric car market today. The first AC Propulsion Tzero was built in 1996. Like the EV1, the Tzero had a range of about 90 miles, but could rocket from 0-60 in 4 seconds, making it the first electric supercar. By 2003, a second generation Tzero was born, packing lightweight Lithium-Ion batteries instead of Lead-Acid. This gave the Tzero an ev range of a whopping 300 miles. If that wasn’t enough, a trailer mounted generator could be attached to the back to extend the range even further. Seen here:
Well the Tzero never made it to production, unfortunately. Out of the Tzero, and the potential of the Lithium Ion battery, came the concept for the eBox. Basically, AC Propulsion converts customer-owned Scion xBs by removing the internal combustion engine and related components and installing the AC Propulsion electric drive system and battery. You can do this now, but you have to provide the $15K Scion and another $55K for them to convert it. Undoubtedly, if AC Propulsion operated on a larger scale, this could be done for less than half that. Tom Hanks was pretty enthused about this one:
But the real legacy of AC Propulsion and Alan Cocconi stems from that 100,000 watt amp. The AC Propulsion drivetrain that Cocconi developed has evolved, and is now used in the Venturi Fetish, Wrightspeed X1, and the Tesla Roadster. All of which are on the cutting edge of electric vehicle technology and have inspired others to design future concepts.