We brought you the audio version of this interview yesterday, but if you didn't have time to listen to Miles Automotive's Chris Buehrer talk about the upcoming Javlon XS500, here's our talk written down (with the "ums" and all that edited out). Enjoy
ABG: You know we usually keep up with what Miles is up to, but somehow notice of a Javlon, either I just have forgotten about it or it missed me. What is more likely?
CB: It, it may have missed you. We're not really marketing heavily. Right now we're not, you know, we're not promoting the vehicle too much, but we want to have set up as a dealership network when the car is here.
CB: So at the NADA, National Auto Dealer's Association, in Las Vegas in February, we brought this chassis over to show dealers and say, hey, this is what-this is what we're putting the other few guys. We want to show them that it's a good-looking car. It's not a small little boxy egg crate or something so we wanted to show them the, the styling of the vehicle and we wanted to advertise so that the numbers that we're shooting for, uh, uh, for performance values and then, uh, start signing on some dealership-a dealership network that believed in the car and believed in our mission and, uh, and, and that's the reason that you see the chasse here. We've really only, uh, had it at the NADA show and now here.
ABG: Okay. But, it's okay to put pictures up online of it, right?
CB: Yeah. Sure.
read it all after the jump
ABG: Because I mean, I just, I just don't remember seeing this before, um, with the electric idea behind it. What are those numbers that you were just talking about? What are the performance-
CB: Yeah, so, um, we're, um, we're seeing right now the vehicles doing 150 miles for range.
ABG: For range?
CB: Yep. And about 80 miles an hour, uh, for a top speed.
ABG: All right.
CB: All right. I think we're shooting for-I know we're shooting for 80 miles an hour and I think the car will hopefully-maybe hopefully go 200 miles on a charge, but we-you know, if air conditioning on, typical driving conditions, uh, uh, uh, headlights on, all kind of sucks a little bit of battery so-
ABG: Right, right, right.
CB: -we're seeing 150 miles is, is what we've been getting.
CB: Cause that's what we're getting right now.
ABG: And that sounds like lithium ion?
CB: With the lithium ion batteries.
ABG: So that means it's expensive.
CB: Well, our, our, our starting price, uh, for the base model will be $29,500.
ABG: You said $29,000?
CB: $29,500 and then with all-I mean, with all the options that'll be up to about $32,000.00 so Mile's mission is to put a $30,000.00 car on the road. That's what he wants to-
ABG: And that sign over there says 2008, so-
ABG: -so if everything you've told me is correct, you're beating Tesla to the market with a sedan. And that's, that's kind of a big deal.
CB: It's a very big deal, I think.
ABG: Because they obviously have a lot of money and-
CB: Oh yeah.
ABG: -stuff invested in getting their roadster out and their White Star is supposed to be 2010ish.
ABG: So how, how, how real is this going to be?
CB: Yeah. I think it's going to be very real. Make you-I mean Mile's background is in business, so he's not going to advertise anything he can't do. You're talking about, you know, he's the chairman of the Detroit Iron Steel. He's the chairman of Ralph Lauren Jeans. So being realistic, being business savvy and, and, and making sense, I think he's put these dates out here and those numbers so people can understand that he means business.
ABG: All right. Um, who makes the body? Who makes the batteries? Who makes the-where is this all to be made in China?
ABG: With other Mile's cars? What's the-
CB: Yep. You know-yeah, we've got partners in China that are manufacturing the body and the batteries and the charging system for us.
ABG: What other details do our listeners and our readers need to know?
CB: Basically what you can see on that plaque over there is what we're kind of putting out. At this point-I mean, again, this car is here to show dealerships what they're going to be getting-dealers what they're going to be getting. Here's the specifications. And here's the kind of things that we're going to be-
ABG: Yep. I took a picture of that, so that'll go up to get people to peruse on their own.And this car will be here on Wednesday for the public showing as well, yes?
CB: It'll be here all three days.
ABG: Not being moved, so-
CB: We're only going to be driving the low speed vehicle though.
ABG: Right, right. Is this one operable or is this just the body?
CB: This is just the prototype. Yeah, so it's not operable at all. Some important time lines, I guess, would be that, uh, that I hear Miles talk about is in October we're going to bring about eight to ten cars over here for the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration to test. Cause you have to pass NHTSA testing in order to get the vehicle on the road, obviously. And based on how long that testing goes and how many modifications we have to make, you know, that's the soonest it'll get in the show room. I would say six to eight months after the vehicles actually get here-maybe ten months. The testing sometimes takes quite a while.
ABG: Yeah. Well, that, that, again, if that's all correct, that does say late 2008.
CB: Yep. So that's-those are our timeline goals. These are our vehicle goals.
CB: And again we've got just a couple of them built.
ABG: I know that there were quite a few dealers-if I remember right reading about the dealer show in Vegas that was in February, it seemed that there were quite a few of Miles' dealerships that people who are interested in starting a Miles' dealership.
ABG: What were some of the numbers from that and-
CB: Some of the numbers, well-
ABG: -like about. Did you have, you know, 20? I forget, I forget and I think I wrote about it at the time or I know we covered it.
CB: We have twelve dealerships signed up so far.
CB: Do you want to see some of the names? We've got some of them over on that placard over there. We've got Tom and Blinker and Donahue and some of the countries largest auto dealers actually. And we've got twelve total. I think our goal is to have about 100 signed up, middle of next year, to sell the car.
CB: So we're signing dealers on actively right now.
ABG: Trying to think of more questions here because, you see, I didn't expect to come across a car that I hadn't-didn't know much about.
CB: Yeah. We've flown under the radar for a lot of good reasons. I mean, there's-it's going to send some ripples through the auto-making world, I think. You know, there's obviously competitors out there and so we're not really going to-you're not really going to see this marketed too heavily until it's physically here. You know?
ABG: Okay. Well I definitely think readers will be very excited to know that there's a chance that in, you know, 18 months they'll be able to get a $30,000 all electric car.
ABG: What about charging? It's a 110 volt, 220 volt? Time to charge is six hours, eight hours or-?
CB: It's going to be about a six-hour recharge on 220-volt system, so it's going to have to be plugged in where your washer and water's plugged in.
ABG: Okay. All right.
CB: A lot of garages have 220. You know it depends on, uh, some people have 220 in their garages, but it just depends.
ABG: Is there any talk about developing a high-speed charger for it at all?
CB: We haven't gone there yet. Everything we've seen so far I think is kind of, uh, has more of a sort of effect on the battery. I think, you know, if we're going to warrant this battery - which we are - if we're going to warrant the battery and expect the battery to last you have to do test on it. These high-speed chargers, I think, right now, they degrade the battery life and I don't think we want to go in and do that yet.
CB: Now I think the technology is going to come around and it's-obviously once it does and once we can prove that the, the quick chargers don't degrade the batteries like I think they'll see us jump into that, but right now I mean it just heats the battery up massively. And I think it might take away from the actual lifespan.
ABG: Um-hum. What would the warranty be that you're talking about?
CB: Our Chinese partners are telling us, nothing's written in stone yet. We haven't even actually, you know, created the warranty. But I think we're kicking around now is, uh, uh, either 75,000 to 100,000 miles for the warranty depends on how, how well we see the battery perform over the next six to eight months. So it's kind of TBD, but I think you're going to see a battery pack that's going to go about 125,000 miles before it needs to be replaced.
ABG: And who is the maker of the battery pack?
CB: We're not really talking too much about that. Our manufacturer is in China.
ABG: Okay. Things like regenerative braking-yes, no?
CB: I don't know if this is going to have regenerative braking in it or not. I suppose if, you know, some-I know the Priuses have them and those kind of things, but I, I, haven't seen a fully electric car with regenerative braking on it yet and I don't know if we're going to do that or not. I haven't, sat in on the R&D team. But I think if it's worthwhile and we can actually get extended range out of it, we'll do it. I have seen a lot of one op plug in electrics that have regenerative braking option on them. I've ridden in a lot of those cars and almost everyone, to a man, turns it off. Because it was, you know, it kind of does this number when you drive it (makes slowing down noise). Have you ever ridden in one of these cars yet?
ABG: I don't remember that feature of it slowing down.
CB: And so-I mean I know, I know Prius-I'm seeing a fully loaded electric car, not a hybrid. I know the Priuses don't do that, but the ones that I have been in that are fully electric trying to recapture that energy, um, a lot of the guys just turn them off because they don't really like them as much. So we'll see. Again, I'm not the guy doing the developing and all.
ABG: So that sounds like that a lot of, or at least some, thought is being given to the performance of the car, the driving experience. Rather than, you know, really having great specs and saying like our car can go so many miles that yes, you want those numbers as good as possible, but you don't want it to negatively affect the experience.
CB: I'm just not 100 percent on if we're doing regenerative braking or not. And I think it would, it would-the factor for us would be, um, is it going to increase the range and, uh, you know, and, and if it is we would it. I'd guarantee we'd do it. I think right now perhaps the Lithium battery is good enough on its own. I'm not 100 percent sure about that.
ABG: Yeah. All right. Anything I forget to ask that you've been telling people that you haven't told me?
CB: Nope. No. I mean the timeline is important. Uh, the vehicle is important. Our next step after this will be, uh, a small SUV hybrid-I'm sorry, a small SUV/minivan. It's, um, taller. It looks kind of like a mini van, but it's really an SUV. It's kind of a cross over type of a thing. You've seen the new genre of cars coming out. That will be our next step in highway speed. Um, and, uh, I don't know. This will be it, I think. I think you're going to see this in a dealership near you in like 2008.
ABG: All right.
CB: Around $30,000.00. Hopefully the masses are, you know, going to like it.
ABG: Well, like I said, I've said it a couple of times already, but if what you've told me comes true it's, it's, uh, a pretty big deal.
CB: Yeah. We're excited about it. This is obviously the Holy Grail. The low speed car we have available now universities are buying this thing. Cal Poly just bought nine of those cars. Uh, Yale's got a couple. Stanford's got a couple. So, you know, that has smaller niche applications. But this is, you know, the consumer, you know, obviously burns the most gas. They are the ones that are pumping the most CO2 in the air and, uh, and, uh, so if we can get consumers buying this car it will make a big difference, I think.
ABG: Chris, thank you very much for talking to AutoblogGreen.
CB: Yeah. No problem.