EDTA Conference: More details on UQM's electric Silverado

The only new vehicle unveiled at the EDTA conference was the converted Silverado EV, which you probably read about on Tuesday. Since all I had to do was walk on over to the UQM booth for more information on this truck, I didn't miss my chance to learn more about how the Air Force, and now the Army, is looking to make their vehicles greener.

The Silverado on display is a one-of-a-kind vehicle built by UQM in conjunction with the Air Force as a test bed for two technologies: permanent magnet machines and lithium-ion packs, and how they work together. The truck has a 46 kWh pack with 27 Valence li-ion batteries that power a 120 KW propulsion system that offers 650 newton meters peak torque. This power is moved by direct drive to the rear transaxle. The UQM Silverado gets about 150 miles per charge and can do 0-60 in less than 10 seconds, the booth spokesman told me. The truck has bee in the works in Colorado for two years, but only about half that time was spent actually working on the truck. The rest of the time UQM was dealing with contract issue, like threats that the Air Force would cancel the program.

More text and pictures after the jump.

Air Force Capt. Jim Muldoon wasn't about to let that happen. Muldoon proposed the project and then later brought the Army into the picture.

"When I wrote this and proposed it, Ford, GM and Toyota had all stopped their electric vehicle development, which we had all of them in our fleet," he told AutoblogGreen. "We still have the electric S10s, we had the Rangers and wanted to keep the Rangers, we had the Hyundai Santa Fes. We proposed building the next generation electric vehicle. Some of it had to do with our experience with electric vehicles, and the main thing is that the factors that limited their capability were range and charge times, so we addressed both of those.

"The Colonel asked, with everyone else dropping off, why are we picking up electric vehicles? We had pretty much committed to fuel cells and working with the hybrid Humvee, had decided that series hybrids were going to come. [We said that] rather than try to take a bite out of the entire system of a hybrid vehicle, let's develop a higher density system on an electric vehicle."

The pitches worked. The initial project was for $100,000, to which was added $750,000, then $1 million last year to work on the power electronics and this year the Army found $1.8 million to convert two more Silverados. These new trucks will feature upgraded power electronics and silicon carbide technology.

"We're going to focus on using the same module, but put in the silicon carbide and then reduce the cooling required," Muldoon said.

These modifications, difference in each new truck, should reduce the thermal requirements. Muldoon said dropping a range extender ( diesel engine hybrid) is a possibility to fill that gaping hole under the hood where the engine used to be.

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