A Surprising Spring Bouquet of EVs Pops Up All Over

Posted On April 22, 2009 | by AllenCaron

SUBSEQUENT COVERAGE: After our article was published, this interview of Bright CEO Waters appeared on Fox Business News: http://tinyurl.com/ckl8oe  (video)

Electric vehicles seem to be cropping up everywhere like the flowers of spring these days.  Today there was an important unveiling in Washington DC, as Bright Automotive (http://www.brightautomotive.com) showed its utility vehicle, the IDEA on Capitol Hill.  As Earth2tech observed, it is hard to characterize it as terribly slick (http://earth2tech.com/2009/04/21/photos-bright-automotive-unveils-100mpg-plug-in-fleet-vehicle/), but its stats are pretty impressive.   It claims fuel efficiency amounting to 100 mpg, and it was developed by Rocky Mountain Institute-spawned company headed by John Waters, former head of the GM EV-1 project.  Bright aims to be building 50,000 of these little puppies annually in about 3 years.  From DC, it heads to Norway for an official debut at a show there.

Bright IDEA -- the new utility vehicle from Bright Automotive

Bright IDEA -- the new utility vehicle from Bright Automotive

This bright idea (ok, it’s a pun) is a useful vehicle that looks like a slicked-up panel truck, but if you count the number of panel trucks on the road today and add up their gasoline exhausts, there is probably more carbon to be saved on those than on the sexy 2-seaters that are being hawked around by Tesla (http://www.teslamotors.com)  and archrival Fisker (http://www.fiskerautomotive.com).   Fisker said today that a simpler EV power system might hold the combination of cheaper EVs (http://earth2tech.com/2009/04/21/fisker-eyes-simpler-engine-as-one-key-to-a-lower-cost-plug-in/).

The brouhaha in DC today also involved other green companies that are involved in providing charging stations, without which EVs are less useful (if you can only charge them at home, the driving range becomes less meaningful).  The charging mafiosi who showed up today included Coulomb (http://www.coulombtech.com), the company that is making a name for itself with charging stations in the SF Bay Area, Envision Solar (http://www.envisionsolar.com), and Axion Power (http://www.axionpower.com), who are ganging up to provide charging stations independent of the grid, courtesy of Envision’s solar panels and Axion’s PbC(R) batteries, which are lineal descendents of lead-acid, but which use nanocarbon anodes to replace the lead and to gear up the performance.  Axion Power trades on the EBB as AXPW, and their shares were quoted at the close today at $1.60, down from a 52-week high of $2.75 on volume today of 84,000 shares, mostly due to a global distribution pact signed last week with the giant Alpharetta, GA-based battery company, Exide Technologies (http://www.exide.com), which trades on Nasdaq as XIDE, and whose shares closed today at $4.69 on volume of more than 400,000 shares, down from a tad under $20 on a full-year basis. 

But last week we saw some other impressive EVs, most notably the busy little Bee  One, which is set to be sold for just UNDER $10,000 a copy — and it is a 4-seater with a top speed of 80mph and a driving range of 200 miles.   The Bee One is a fit competitor for Tata’s Indica (http://www.engadget.com/2009/04/21/tata-indica-soon-to-hit-the-streets-of-norway-its-electric/), which is set to be rolling off the assembly lines later this year.

The Not-Unsexy Little Bee One 4-seater (200 mile driving range)

The Not-Unsexy Little Bee One 4-seater (200 mile driving range)

None of these cars looks like a Formula One racecar, but they look a damned sight better than a lot of boxy gas-guzzlers.  Speaking of which, Raser Technologies introduced a PHEV (plug-in hybrid) HUMMER that, it is claimed, will also deliver 100 mpg in its trucky version (http://www.autobloggreen.com/tag/raser+hummer/).  Raser shares trade on the NYSE as RZ, and closed today at $4.17, down from a 52-week high of $11.79 on 480,000 shares (presumably not double-counted). 

And of course none of those announcements made more headlines than the deal Chrysler made with A123 for Li-ion batteries for their EVs (http://seekingalpha.com/article/130094-energy-storage-chrysler-a123-alliance-likely-to-spark-interest-in-sector) , nor more wide eyes than Toyota’s announced $21,000 price tag for the new, bigger, better Prius (http://www.dailytech.com/Toyota+Trims+Price+of+2010+Prius+to+Combat+Honda+Insight/article14929.htm).  Get ’em while they’re hot! 

Must be the time of year . . . .

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