The odds against these upstart automakers are formidable, but interest in low-emission vehicles has never been greater. We look beyond golf carts at highway-speed electrics and hybrids that show plenty of moxie, if not quite production-readiness.
Miles Electric Vehicles
Miles is a Santa Monica-based maker of a highway-speed all electric midsize sedan which is slated to be available in Q1 2001. The sedan can top 80 mph and has a 100+ mile driving range. Its proprietary lithium-ion battery pack is guaranteed for 8 years or 100K miles. Projected MSRP is $40,000 - $45,000 and drivers may be eligible for a $5,000 - $7,500 tax credit under legislation recently passed by Congress.
The 3-wheel Aptera can achieve top speeds in excess of 85 mph, going from 0-60 in under 10 seconds.
If the Miles sedan is Ed from accounting, the aerodynamic Aptera Typ-1e is Chuck from the Bonneville Salt Flats. The aerodynamic Aptera Typ-1e could not look more different than the battery-drawn coach from Miles. Its sleek design owes more to the aviation industry than to Detroit's standard-issue boxes on wheels.
With 300-mpg and zero emissions, the Aptera Typ-1e was hailed by Popular Mechanics with a Breakthrough Award in October 2008 and is a contender for the Automotive X Prize.
The company estimates its all electric version will cost $27,000 and its plug-in hybrid $30,000. Production of the all-electric may begin this year and the hybrid in late 2009.
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