The plug-in electric car business is still in it's infancy, but that hasn't stopped start-ups from experimenting with new ways to charge and run EVs and plug-in hybrids. Enter ETV Motors, an Israeli start-up that has built a Toyota Prius with a jet turbine engine.
Instead of using the traditional internal combustion engine, ETV's Prius uses an electric engine containing a supercapacity Lithium Manganese Nickel Oxide battery and a micro-jet turbo engine that can run on gasoline, diesel, and biofuel. The engine acts as an onboard charger, while the battery powers the vehicle for 35-50 miles on a single charge. In comparison, Toyota's upcoming plug-in hybrid, scheduled for release this year, runs 12-18 miles on a charge. ETV claims its batteries are also smaller and have a longer range than existing Lithium-ion batteries. And since the ETV system contains an on-board charger, there's no need for an extensive electric car charging infrastructure.
ETV, which has raised $12 million in investments, expects to have a final product ready for testing next year. Once it's ready to go on the market, ETV's system will be cheaper than other hybrid already available.
But if ETV has developed a hybrid electric car that can run without a plug-in infrastructure and Nissan is working on an EV that charges like an electric toothbrush, are companies like Better Place jumping the gun in building a plug-in charging infrastructure? In the short term, at least, it looks like plug-in hybrids will win out, but 10 years down the line we may realize that the plug-in infrastructure was built too hastily.