Phoenix Motors SUTEarth-friendly, fuel-efficient vehicles that produce no emissions may seem like a dream of the future. But several companies are already well on their way to introducing such vehicles in North America and around the world. Recently, more than 400 environmentalists, investors and celebrities gathered for the unveiling and induction of the only five-passenger, all-electric, freeway-speed sport utility vehicle at Los Angeles' famed Peterson Automotive Museum: The Phoenix Motorcars "SUT" or sport-utility truck.

The electric truck will be made available by Phoenix Motorcars for full release in 2008, but if you are lucky enough to live in California, a limited number of vehicles will be released to selected consumers in late 2007.

The truck has a top speed of 95 miles per hour. It's a zero-emissions vehicle with no tailpipe or evaporative emissions, no emissions from gasoline refining or sales, and no onboard emission-control systems. Like newer electric cars under development, this model can accelerate with moderate speed, from 0-60 mph in 10 seconds. High performance electric cars from companies like Tesla Motors can go from 0-60 mph in a whiplash-inducing 4 seconds. The trucks can drive roughly 130 miles before needing to recharge, but the company is currently working on an expansion pack that would extend the range to 250 miles.

The cars will sell for about $45,000 — not a bad price when compared to around $85,000 from some other electric car competitors. According to the website for Phoenix Motorcars, the company specializes in "the mass production of full-function, green electric trucks and SUVs for commercial fleet use."

Charge me up!

The question on everyone's mind about this vehicle is: how do you charge the battery? It's accomplished with an onboard 6.6kW charger that plugs into a 220V wall socket. The battery operates in cold and hot weather and is expected to last more than 12 years. It only costs about $3.00 to charge the battery, and it takes about six hours to charge. (A range of 130 miles for $3.00 worth of electricity is quite a bargain, considering it would cost about $30.00 or more in gasoline to go the same distance…)

The six hour charging time is typical for electric vehicles. The power is supplied through your household current, so the electricity could be generated by coal, solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear sources, depending on what your electric utility company uses. Off-board charging can be accomplished with a special charger in as little as 10 minutes, and a company called GreenIt is planning the construction of rapid-charging stations for electric cars.

Phoenix Motors is generating a lot of interest from consumers, and may start selling vehicles to the general public in the next two years. Actor and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr., has recently purchased one and sees it as the car of the future. "This electric vehicle is rising from the ashes of the failed electric car industry," said Ed Begley, Jr. "This is a cool vehicle. It is fast, green and attractive."

Phoenix Motors acknowledged their supporter, saying they were "so appreciative to Ed Begley for his tireless efforts in helping to create awareness, not only of this vehicle, but of the larger environmental issues that all of us face," said Dan Elliott, CEO of Phoenix Motorcars. "We're equally as excited to be working with a team of brilliant partners, Altairnano Technologies, Boshart Engineering and UQM Technologies."

The Phoenix Motorcars Vision

Phoenix Motorcars started out as an alternative fuel research company that planned to design commercial products. They hope to eventually produce 20,000 electric vehicles a year, but for now will have to settle with the 500 currently slated for the first production run. The Ontario, California vehicle manufacturer hopes to expand production to more than 6,000 in 2008.

According to Byron Bliss, Vice-President of Sales, Phoenix Motorcars plans to sell fleets of vehicles to school districts and businesses, government agencies and companies, such as public utilities, public transportation providers, and delivery services. Some government agencies already currently use plug-in hybrids.

The car company is planning to follow up the truck model next year with a sport-utility vehicle (SUV) that can go 250 miles on a single charge. The price to consumers will remain about the same. The savings passed along to the environment, however, represents a substantial gain. Clearly, if we are going to sustainably live on this planet while still retaining the luxury of personal transportation, we are going to have to shift to clean, green and energy-efficient vehicles. Phoenix Motorcars hopes to play a significant role in that future, and should they succeed, we will all share in the benefits.
(Article originally published by NewsTarget Network)

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