It's said that you can't judge a book by its cover and that adage would seem to hold true in the case of a certain Ford Windstar circulating through the streets of Sacramento, California. This nondescript all-electric minivan, which acts as both a technology platform and working taxi vehicle for ElectriCab Technologies, recently racked up 428 miles on one of Northern California's worst winter weather days and will try to turn heads sometime soon with an official attempt at cracking the 700-mile mark. The feat was not accomplished by employing fancy hyper-miling techniques or using a sophisticated battery swapping machine. Rather, the company leans on high level charging of a healthy-sized battery pack.

Able to squeeze up to 142 miles from their self-engineered 65 kWh pack, the ElectriCab E1 uses an off-board rapid charger to replenish its electron supply. The minivan's powertrain is the result of eight years of development that has seen the vehicle receive upgraded motors, controllers and batteries. The company kicks off this new decade with an ambitious plan to produce an electric town car and foreign-market taxi production prototypes, a high voltage version of their E1 as well as a Level 4 (700 amps!) charging station. Check out their full press release after the break. Thanks to David Martin for the tip!

[Source: ElectriCab via EV World]

PRESS RELEASE


ElectriCab Technologies Unveils 700-mile-per-day Electric Taxi Solution

December 30, 2009
Sacramento, CA, USA

ElectriCab Technologies is an award-winning California corporation with a clear mission: to deliver a sustainable, zero-emission solution to the taxi industry. The solution is based on full-sized vehicles, extended range batteries, rapid charging infrastructure, and dramatically reduced cost of ownership. To contrast with other recent headlines:

  • This is not a low-speed hyper-miling stunt, nor is it a month-long cross-country tour constrained by overnight charging and 2-3 hours per day on the freeway.
  • Nor is this a story about "convenient household outlets" posing as charging infrastructure for 40-mile Plug-in-Hybrid commuters.
  • It isn't about street-legal golf carts, or electric "taxis" in name only that charge overnight, quit after a few miles and require never-ending flatbed assistance.
  • Nor is it about sophisticated battery swapping robots or unproven business models courting a tremendously difficult marketplace.

This is a mainstream solution to electrify the taxi industry, seven years in the making, delivered by a company with a single focus.

ElectriCab's electrified conversion of a popular minivan has served as its development prototype since 2002, and has seen major upgrades to motor, controller, and of course, batteries. Capable of freeway speeds and laying 30 feet of rubber, the electric taxi provides a one-of-a-kind customer experience, powerfully packaged in a zero-emission platform.

"We engineer our own battery packs," states Robert Kittell, P.E., a licensed professional engineer and Chairman of ElectriCab. "Beginning at the cell level, our designs are optimized around safety, thermal management, life cycle costing and total daily range. These are the cornerstones of our solution for the taxi industry. Plus, our Design-for-Disassembly approach further enhances our environmental impact by promoting the re-use of key battery module components."

With 65kW-hrs of energy on board and an off-board rapid charger, the modified vehicle has been designed to deliver 700-800 miles in total daily range. Real world driving has achieved as much as 142 miles on a single charge, along with multiple rapid charge cycles per day. An ElectriCab driver has already logged 428 miles in one day during the worst December weather Northern California has to offer. The company will be scheduling a sanctioned event to officially demonstrate 700 miles in total daily range in early 2010.

ElectriCab has continually validated its taxi solution in the marketplace, having placed its first full-sized electric taxi in service in 2003. Calibrated, inspected & insured, ElectriCab is able to offer the lowest rates in the city of Sacramento. "Our energy costs are 40% lower than a gasoline version of the same vehicle... and this includes battery pack replacement provisions. We are in a position to pass these savings on to the consumer." As a gesture to community, ElectriCab will be providing free service to the Sacramento market through the Holiday season.

ElectriCab's plans for 2010 include construction of new production prototypes for an electric town car and foreign-market electric taxi, a Level 4 charging station (700 amps), and a high voltage version of their converted minivan.

"We are very excited at our prospects of delivering these four initiatives, plus expanding our service into several key markets in 2010. 20-minute recharging is our next target, as is 1,000 miles total daily range."

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