eStark electric jeep to be based on MotoCzysz powertrain
By C.C. Weiss
May 31, 2012
Over the past few years, MotoCzysz has done some impressive things with electricity. Like winning the Isle of Man TT Zero race ... twice. Now the company will expand its EV resume to another interesting electric vehicle - a small SUV from Brazilian manufacturer TAC Motors.
"Deciding to make an electric Stark was an easy decision, the difficult part was, how?" said Giovani Balduino, TAC Motors' Technical Director. "MotoCzysz answered that question with the D1g1tal Dr1ve."
Introduced a couple years ago, D1g1tal Dr1ve - which for the record is as difficult to type as the spelling of "Czysz" is to remember - is MotoCzysz's powertrain package for builders looking for a plug-and-play electric solution. It packages a Remy liquid-cooled electric motor, inverter, cooling system, differential and miscellaneous electronics into a single aluminum box that's about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage. All the EV builder has to do to get the motor spinning is add the battery, water loop and low voltage wiring harness.
The D1g1tal Dr1ve will provide TAC with a quick, sure solution for converting the gas Spark to a zero emissions set-up. The company describes the Spark as a popular "jeep-style sport-ute" (think modern-day Suzuki Samurai or Isuzu Amigo). The model was designed with off-road intentions and features a cage-shaped reinforced tubular chassis covered in fiberglass panels and engineering plastic. It also packs two shocks per wheel.
TAC Motors plans to begin production on the eSpark by next year. Its agreement with MotoCzysz is for 3,600 D1g1tal Dr1ve powertrains.
Though the United States has never seen the gasoline Spark, and other similar small off-roaders disappeared from the market years ago, MotoCzysz CEO Michael Czysz gives some hope of importation: "The eStark is a very exciting and cool vehicle that I think will be a real success in Brazil and hopefully eventually in North America as well."
An electric off-roader sounds like a pretty cool toy at first. However, take one trip to an off-road destination like Moab and watch the hordes of Wranglers and Land Rovers heading into the vast unknown with bright-red gas cans strapped to their utility racks and you realize that range anxiety is far scarier when you're talking about hot, unforgiving nothingland miles from civilization. While a range figure for the electric Stark has not yet been released, we suspect we'll need to stick to off-roading on gas until batteries can promise a few more miles.
On another note, MotoCzysz is preparing for the upcoming Isle of Man TT Zero race yet again. This year, it plans to not only defend its title, but also hopes to break the 100 mph lap average for the first time. Last year, it averaged just over 99.5 mph, close enough to smell the 10,000-pound prize for the first electric bike to average 100 mph. Practice for the TT Zero begins this weekend.