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AltCar 2007-Santa Monica, CA

October 21, 2007

I got the opportunity to visit the 2007 AltCar expo in Santa Monica, where they had displays for all sorts of novel solutions -EV, fuel cell, biodiesel, etc. They also had lots of test drive opportunities. Full story and photos after the jump.

ACProp eBox DashboardVectrix PropagandaGreen Cars…yeahp1010031thumb.jpgEV1 - Mint ConditionRouch NEV truckAC Propulsion Induction Motorp1010020thumb.jpgp1010002thumb.jpg

I got to take a spin in the AC Propulsion eBox, as well as a small truck NEV built by Roush. They were both very smooth and pleasant to drive – although the eBox was much MUCH quicker, and its regenerative braking was very powerful (takes some getting used to). After flooring it, it’s tempting to let off the gas and coast for a bit, like with an ICE. With regen on max, that made for some jerky driving initially. Thankfully, it has a tiny gauge which adjusts the regen force very easily, although I eventually got the hang of modulating both power and braking with my right foot alone. I found this car particularly interesting because its motor is VERY similar in power and design to what’s planned for the Chevy Volt. Hopefully the Volt will also have the regen adjust feature. A new feature was a trip computer that calculated energy expenditure among other things – the car had averaged 327 Wh/mile.

The eBox had its air-cooled, 600+pounds of batteries mounted in an “I” shape under the front and back seats, and along the central tunnel – very reminiscent of EV1, and definitely good for crash protection. Despite using 18650’s, they don’t seem to have had the packaging and cooling nightmares that Tesla has, probably due in part to the centralized position as well as using a “different chemistry”. They wouldn’t reveal which chemistry, however.

I didn’t get a chance to ride in the Honda or Mercedes-Benz fuel cell vehicles – there was a really long waiting list, and you couldn’t actually drive it yourself. I did notice that every time they went by, there was a lot of fan and compressor noise coming from them.

Some interesting news that was circulating around the event – apparently AltairNano will be selling its batteries to the public by 2009, although I didn’t hear about any sort of cost estimate.

Unsurprisingly, A123System’s representatives wouldn’t comment about their new automotive cell type.

Oh, and there was a mint condition EV1 there. Ghostly…

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