If you live in California, you'll be able to buy an electric SUV by the end of the year. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that this electric SUV will be using NanoSafe rechargeable, nano titanate batteries developed by Altairnano. The future SUVs will have an autonomy of more than 100 miles per charge at a factory set top speed of 95 mph. And by stopping at future Pacific Gas & Electric's "rapid charge stations," it will take less than 10 minutes to recharge these batteries. Phoenix Motorcars, which will assemble these all-electric vehicles, has focused on fleet use for 2007 and plans to deliver 500 vehicles for 2007 and 6,000 vehicles for 2008.
You can see above one of the Phoenix Motorcars's SUTs for fleet use (Credit: Phoenix Motorcars). You can see other pictures in this photo gallery.
As you may have guessed, Altairnano is based in Reno, Nevada, and it's not surprising that the Reno Gazette-Journal speaks nicely about the company. Here is an example. "Altairnano has worked many of the kinks out of batteries using the new science [i.e. nanotechnology.] According to Robert Goebel, vice president of sales, the new SUV can cruise easily at freeway speeds, reach Sacramento on a single charge and have its batteries recharged before you can finish your latte."
In fact, Altairnano says that its "NanoSafe batteries have a lifespan of 20+ years, versus the 3-5 year span on other batteries. NanoSafe battery cells have now achieved over 15,000 deep charge/discharge cycles (versus 1,000 cycles for conventional lithium batteries), and can operate at temperatures as low as -50°C and as high as +75°C, with no unsafe characteristics." For more details, you can read two documents about NanoSafe batteries. One is about technology while the other is a simple datasheet.
Now, let's go back to the Reno Gazette-Journal article to learn more about how much it will cost to use such a car. "The cost of driving 130 miles is about $3," said Bryon Bliss of Phoenix Motorcars, Inc. of Ontario, California, working with Altairnano on the project. "And you can recharge in as little as 10 minutes."
The company has decided to focus on fleet deliveries this year. Here is a link to its SUTs fleet specifications. But Phoenix Motorcars will release a consumer version of its zero-emission, freeway-speed, green vehicle in late 2008. And if you're interested, you can sign on to be part of the consumer waiting list.
Apparently, these electric SUVs could be a good buy even if their price is unknown today. First, they should be reliable: an electric motor is much simpler than an internal combustion engine, and contains only a few parts. Then, they should need less maintenance. Finally, they should be better for the environment. So will Phoenix Motorcars SUVs be a hit? Probably a mini one.
Sources: Cory Farley, The Reno Gazette-Journal, June 10, 2007; and various websites
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