High-performance elec­tric vehi­cle. Sounds like an oxy­moron given what per­for­mance peo­ple are used to see­ing out of today’s hybrids. Yet, back in the hey­day of the dot­com boom, there was a lit­tle known com­pany called AC Propul­sion whose video of their tZero con­cept car just made my jaw drop.

What most peo­ple don’t real­ize is that today’s auto man­u­fac­tur­ers are noth­ing more than assem­blers of third-party parts. This is why AC Propul­sion doesn’t man­u­fac­ture any cars. They just develop EV tech­nolo­gies. Their con­cept cars are just demon­stra­tion mod­els for auto manufacturers.

2006 marks the year of all-electric, high-performance, pro­duc­tion vehi­cles with the intro­duc­tion of the Ven­turi Fetish ($500,000) and the Tesla Road­ster ($100,000). Other poten­tial vehi­cles we may see in the future are the Write­speed X1 and an all-electric, Smart Road­ster. As cool as sports cars are, they’re noth­ing more than glo­ri­fied toys. It’s a good thing Tesla Motors is look­ing to bring out a $50K 4-door sedan. I’d also like to see a 5-door sport hatch­back, think all-electric Maz­daSpeed 3/Subaru WRX. Then there’s the one vehi­cle miss­ing from the market—the PCV, Per­sonal Com­muter Vehi­cle. A one-seat, 4-wheeled vehi­cle essen­tially a cross between a motor­cy­cle and car. Think Corbin Spar­row but with four wheels and bet­ter per­for­mance and styling. This would be an ideal plat­form to intro­duce EV tech­nolo­gies. Toy­ota unveiled the PM con­cept vehi­cle in 2003. Com­muter Cars cur­rently man­u­fac­tures the Tango ($100,000). Given the looks and price, I’d rather get a Tesla.

On a related side note, AC motors are used in lieu of DC motors for their per­for­mance capa­bil­i­ties. Yet, each vehi­cle listed above uses bat­ter­ies for energy stor­age which rep­re­sent the bulk of each vehicle’s weight and expense. Even before AC Propul­sion with their high-efficiency DC-AC con­verter were on the scene, Rosen Motors, from 1993 to 1997, devel­oped an AC hybrid pow­er­train based around a tur­bo­gen­er­a­tor which drove DC motors. So to me, an ideal high-performance hybrid would be a tur­bo­gen­er­a­tor that drove AC motors. A sim­pler and more ele­gant solu­tion than putting an elec­tric pow­er­train in par­al­lel with an ICE pow­er­train which is what’s cur­rently being done for hybrids. Such a sys­tem would cer­tainly bridge the gap until bat­tery tech­nol­ogy becomes more afford­able to not just the rich. I should note that Rosen Motors also employed a kinetic bat­tery, a flywheel-motor-generator, in their power train which was used to store energy reclaimed from regen­er­a­tive brak­ing. Kinetic bat­ter­ies are a poten­tial alter­na­tive to chem­i­cal bat­ter­ies, but are cur­rently lim­ited by mate­ri­als that can with­stand the high stresses and by cur­rent bear­ing technology.

2 Responses to “Who Says You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too?”

  1. Linden LAN » Numbers Speak Louder Than Words said on December 11th, 2006 at 6:05 pm:

    […] I had pointed out the Tesla Road­ster in an ear­lier post, an all-electric, high-performance sports car. This com­pany has col­lected $60 mil­lion dol­lars in ven­ture cap­i­tal of which only $25 mil­lion dol­lars went into R&D. Of that $25 mil­lion dol­lars, the pro­to­type vehi­cle cost $350,000. The Tesla Road­ster has a street price of $100,000. Tesla motors is also plan­ning on a $50,000 4-door sedan which is at the same price point of an H2 Hummer. […]

  2. Morgan Parker said on August 10th, 2010 at 10:47 pm:

    AC motors are more effi­cient than DC motors and requires less maintennance ’