03_Phoenix Motorcars

The electric car, back from the dead

The electric-car quandry is almost over. Until now, you could get either a low-speed "neighborhood" vehicle that couldn't break the 40 mph barrier, or an electric supercar like the Tesla Roadster that sells for $90,000. But Ontario, California--based Phoenix Motorcars is about to unveil a $45,000 truck and an SUV that will go from zero to 60 in 10 seconds, travel 200 to 250 miles, and keep up with highway traffic. At the heart of the Phoenix is a new variant of the lithium-ion battery, made by Altair Nanotechnologies. It replaces the carbon anodes of old with nanosized lithium-titanate particles, which don't overheat and allow the car to recharge in about 15 minutes using a special charger, or in six to seven hours using a wall socket. The first two production runs--500 this year, 6,000 in 2008--will be sold to fleet owners to work out the final kinks before the Phoenix is offered up to the general public. "What we're saying," says Phoenix CEO Dan Elliott, "is you can have your cake and eat it too."

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