June 18, 2007 Another step towards exploding the perception that electric vehicles will never have the grunt, range or practicality of their oil guzzling, high-emission counterparts has been taken in California with a record charging time demonstrated for the all-electric Phoenix SUT (Sport Utility Truck). The milestone demonstration by AeroVironment saw the 35kWh (kilowatt-hour) battery pack developed for use with the Phoenix fully-charged in less than ten minutes - enough to power the five-seat utility for 100 miles.
Phoenix Motorcars recently showcased the zero-emission, 4-door SUT at the Inland Empire Auto Show in Ontario. Capable of reaching 95mph, the SUT can travel at freeway speeds even with five passengers and a full payload. It has a range of up to 130 miles and plans are already underway for an expansion pack which will extend this to 250 miles. The Phoenix is powered by a UQM Technologies motor that generates 480 foot-pounds of torque and accelerates from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in 10 seconds. The vehicle also exceeds all specifications for a Type III Zero Emission Vehicle – and its even got air-conditioning.
The 35kWh NanoSafe battery pack developed by Altairnano has a life of approximately 12 years or 250,000 miles and in addition to the ten-minute off-board charging capabilities, it can be recharged on-board (though it takes 6 hours) from a 220V plug-in. Test conducted by AeroVironment engineers also showed that the battery packs can sustain several cycles per day of ten minute charging and two hour discharging.
The reality of global climate change has created worldwide pressure to curb emissions. This is in turn helping drive the push towards fully electric vehicles which have the potential to eliminate automobile-based emissions. Given that a visit to the gas station can take longer, the practicality of a ten-minute charge is further evidence that the coming of age for electric transportation is very close.
The Phoenix Motorcar SUT is due for limited release at the end of the year and a mid-Size SUV will also become part of the range. The company estimates 2008 production levels to be in the order of 6,000 vehicles.