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Editor’s note: Correspondent Kevin Clemens is blogging from The Business of Plugging In electric car conference in Dearborn, Michigan
So you want an electric car, but the Nissan Leaf is too small and the Tesla Roadster is too lavish? An Ohio company might have your answer.
AMP, based just outside Cincinnati, is planning to sell Mercedes-Benz M-Class sport utility vehicles that have been converted to run entirely on battery power. The company, which is made up largely of former executives from Chrysler and GM, also plans to offer an electrified Jeep Grand Cherokee.
For either vehicle the gasoline engine is removed and replaced by a pair of permanent-magnet AC motors made by Remy Inc, a century-old Indiana company and longtime parts supplier to GM.
Lithium ion batteries made in China by GBS hold enough of energy to go 100 miles and provide the 380 volts needed for the 5300 pound vehcile to reach 60 mph in less than 10 seconds, according to AMP.
A brief drive in the M-Class showed the vehicle to be well finished and refined, benefiting from electric power steering and air conditioning systems developed by Mercedes for the hybrid version of the vehicle.
Pre-production models are currently undergoing crash testing and although the price for the Mercedes conversion hasn’t been announced, when it goes on sale in the spring of 2012 it is expected to be around $75,000.