The headline above is what we call a "bait & switch," and it recreates the feeling I got when I approached the AMPLE Motion booth at the AltCar Expo. AMPLE, a new company incorporated on Earth Day this year, is trying an unusual strategy to get the word out about its plug-in hybrid vehicles that are scheduled to arrive in 2010: super deep pre-order discounts. While the company's 2010 R300 plug-in truck will normally cost $75,000, the first thirty people to pre-order will be on the hook for only $29,999. A similar deal was available to visitors at the Santa Monica AltCar Expo for the E600 PHEV sedan. Original MSRP is $99,000, but the pre-order price is $47,999. While the banners at the AMPLE booth say the special offers are limited to the first 30 pre-oders, sheets that AMPLE had available at the show made it seem like only people at the show could take advantage of the deal. So, if you're interested, contact AMPLE for more information.

But what are these vehicles with the unexciting names? We spoke with AMPLE's Ted Flittner about the the company's line-up, discount and referral system (yes, if you get your friends to buy an AMPLE car, you get a referral fee) and more. You can listen to Flittner here (7 min):

Here are the preliminary details on the three plug-in hybrid vehicles AMPLE is offering:

  • For all three: 100 miles per gallon equivalent, or better. 600+ mile range with full charge and tank. Use EDI's mechanically continuously variable transmission. Lithium-ion battery pack. ABS brakes and SRS airbags standard. Recharging from a standard household outlet.
  • E600: "Epiphany" class. Four-door sedan. 60-mile all-electric range (AER). 38 mpg highway. $99,000.
  • E300: Mid-size sedan. 40-mile AER. 45 mpg highway. No price sheet available.
  • R300: "Robust" class. Compact pick-up truck (similar to a Chevy Colorado or Ford Ranger). 1,420 pounds payload. 3,150 pounds towing capability. $75,000.
All of these models will be brand-new vehicles to the customer, but will be made from existing vehicle designs that AMPLE will be licensing from other automakers. More details will be coming in April or May 2009.

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