As battery cell technology advances, expect electric automakers Miles, Myers, Aptera, and Phoenix to shift production of electric cars and hybrids into high gear.

Cora Nucci, Contributor

November 18, 2008

5 Min Read

With the heads of Detroit's Big Three automakers groveling before Congress, hats in hand, electric and hybrid carmakers are racing to market vehicles that promise to replace our gas-sucking buggies.

The Miles all-electric midsize sedan reaches a top speed that exceeds 80 mph.

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.

Aptera Motors

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. Myers Motors

Myers Motors is in the rarified set of electric car makers that is actually building and shipping vehicles to customers. Its highway-legal, single-passenger commuter car, the NmG, can exceed 75 mph, the company says.

The NmG from Myers Motors can exceed 75 mph and be insured and parked as a motorcycle.

Carnival colors and a bulbous shape, have had the three-wheel NmG turning heads since it went into production in 1999. Current orders ship with 13 sealed lead acid batteries with a total weight of 598 lbs. The price is $29,995.

Myers is beta testing a lithium-powered battery pack which has shown a 40+ mile range in winter (in Ohio) and a 60-mile range on 70-degree days (mostly highway driving). The company is offering 15 lithium-powered vehicles as beta testers for $29,995 each.

Phoenix Motors

California-based Phoenix Motors makes highway-speed zero-emission SUVs and SUTs (sports utility trucks). Performance of the Phoenix Motors SUV is clocked at 95 MPH with 0 - 60 in less than ten seconds.

This sports utility truck from Phoenix Motors charges in 5- to 6-hours and has a top speed of 95 mph.

The company uses lithium titanate battery technology developed by Altairnano. Similar to lithium-ion chemistry, the batteries implement a compound containing titanium that prevents the fundamental cause of uncontrolled thermal runaway. Phoenix says the battery can be recharged in less than 10 minutes, operates in cold and hot weather and is expected to last more than 12 years. Production is expected to begin in 2010.


Another X Prize contender is the Loremo, named for being a LOw REsistance automobile. The Loremo's unusual steel structure is designed for maximum passenger protection and fuel economy. Bavarian-engineered and powered by a 20KW Lithium-ion battery, the car is sufficiently powerful to attain speeds up to 100 mph.

Rear-facing back seats are said to provide a high level of safety for children. Production is scheduled for 2010, but shipment will be limited to the E.U., at least initially. Two turbo-diesel hybrid versions will sell for $13,000 - 18,000. Pricing for the all-electric version is not available.

To see more photos of these road-ready electric cars and hybrids, click here.

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