Trexa has revealed details of a lithium-powered, all-wheel vehicle development platform that will enable engineers and developers to create custom "vehicle apps", doing for builders of electric vehicles what the iPhone did for application developers. Modular and scalable, the standard Trexa platform will feature an aluminum, carbon steel tubing and thermoplastic shell containing open source and user programmable electronics and advanced battery technology.

A few years ago, General Motors (GM) brought forth an idea where a variety of vehicle bodies could all be fitted to one standard fuel-cell-propelled chassis: the AUTOnomy concept. "If our vision of the future is correct, and we think it is, AUTOnomy could reinvent the automobile and our entire industry," said Larry Burns, GM Vice President of Research and Development and Planning, at the time.

GM based the design around a hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system and since AUTOnomy was first announced, has shown off some conceptual offerings in the Hy-wire and the Sequel but as yet, a commercially available vehicle hasn't appeared.

The TREXA approach

Meanwhile, a company called Trexa has introduced a similar looking project to AUTOnomy that uses fully recyclable lithium-ion battery technology instead of hydrogen fuel cells but keeps the same single adaptable platform approach. The battery technology for the platform was developed by the team behind the first lithium plug in hybrid system for the Toyota Prius in 2005. Trexa envision the vehicle development platform doing for car builders what the iPhone did for application developers.

Customers will be provided with a Trexa vehicle development kit (VDK) which will contain CAD models for design and validation directly on the platform, human-machine interface components enabling programming and operation and hardware for permanently or interchangeably docking applications to the platform. There's also ongoing development of modules for remote operation and other specialized applications.

The standard platform is made from welded and bonded aluminum, carbon steel tubing and fiber-reinforced thermoplastics and will have an 80 inch wheelbase with a curb weight of 1,250 lb. The Trexa all-wheel drive platform should give 0-60mph in eight seconds, features programmable gearless 2-speed transmission that uses regenerative braking, has a top speed of 100mph and a range of 105 miles with 21kWh of lithium iron phosphate battery power installed. Recharge time is said to be four hours.

Further custom design options

Small task oriented vehicles, prototype mules for developers and a chassis for kit car builders or low-volume production models can be catered for thanks to the platform's scalability features. Builders will benefit from a modular energy storage system that can provide vehicle ranges from 25 miles (7kWh battery configuration) right up to 125 miles (28kWh battery configuration) between charges together with fully adjustable suspension and optional short (64in) and long (96in) wheelbase versions. There's also the option of a dual-motor drive system and variable torque between front and rear axles. While an overnight charger is a standard feature there is also the option of a 6kW onboard fast charger and builders will have access to the main power bus for adding range extenders, enabling off-board chargers, and providing portable power.

Josh Davis, Director of Marketing for Trexa told Gizmag: "Without an internal combustion engine and exhaust system, etc. all of the battery, driveline, and power electronics - everything that makes a vehicle go - can be contained in a low profile enclosed structure that lends itself to unlimited design possibilities."

Pricing details have yet to be announced but will obviously vary depending on selected features. First delivery is expected to take place in 2011.