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Phoenix Evaluating UQM Drive System for Electric Truck

PowerPhase 100

Phoenix Motorcars, the Ojai, California company developing a freeway-speed all-electric pickup truck, has ordered a PowerPhase 100 propulsion system from UQM for evaluation. Phoenix recently ordered a number of lithium-ion batteries from Altair Nanotechnologies for use in subsequent models of the electric truck. (Earlier post.)

Phoenix currently uses an Enova drive system in the prototype EV. The company says that it will continue to offer the Enova system, but is examining other options as well.

The UQM PowerPhase 100 propulsion system delivers 550 Nm (406 lb-ft) of torque and 100 kW (134 hp) of peak power in a compact package that is suited for battery-electric vehicles where the system’s high energy efficiency can improve vehicle range.

The integration of an optimized electric drivetrain from UQM Technologies with nano-lithium battery technology from Altair Nanotechnologies could provide the impetus to rejuvenate and realize the promise of the electric vehicle vision. We are preparing for the manufacture and distribution of several thousand vehicles over the next few years.

—Daniel Riegert, Chairman of Phoenix Motorcars

The current production plan is for 10 vehicles by the end of 2006 (in process), 500 vehicles in 2007, 5,000 in 2008, 20,000 in 2009, 50,000 in 2010 and 100,000 in 2011. Initial pricing is in the low to mid $40K range.


shaun mann

only $40k for a $15k ford ranger, except slower, with a limited range, reduced cargo loading capicity, and virtually no towing capability.

what a deal.

people must be knocking their doors down.

how many years worth of fuel could you buy for $25k?


New technology always starts expensive. Costs will come down with further investment and improvements. Early adopters always pay through the nose. Remember the first $14,000+ plasma TVs a few years back? Now you can have one for less than 1/4 of that price.


At current prices ($3/gal), $25,000 will buy 8300 gallons of gasoline. The V6 version of the Ranger gets something like 20 MPG combined average. That's 165,000 miles worth of gasoline. If electricity were free, it would take the entire lifespan of the vehicle to save enough on gas money to pay the upfront costs. Cost savings associated with reduced maintenance may reduce the payback time, and if the lifespan of the entire vehicle were to reach 300,000 miles (not a far-fetched number), then such a design would be long-term worth it.

I could see this thing taking off (1) in a higher gas-price environment ($5/gal should do it, cf. Europe), (2) as a prestige project for utility fleets, rich green-oriented consumers, etc., (3) if and when the price premium comes down to about $10,000.

The torque on this electric motor is eye-popping. However, I see no numbers for top speed, range or charge time, which are critical parts of the EV equation. As is load carrying capacity, when talking about pickup trucks.


NBK: There's some info on range and charge times here.

120 mile range.
10-15 minute recharge time with an off-board charger.

allen Z

Yeah, the torque would make it attractive, and since money is less a problem with military/space vehicles/ applications, my guess would be that some of the first applications for this (and othrs based on same /similar tech) would be a transport truck, or a APC. The users of the M113/M113 based APC's (ubiquitous in armies worldwide) may be the first customers. Similarly, this motor technology (if also more robust, reliable, and electrically economical) may be welcomed for robot rovers on Mars or wherever sent.

allen Z

Another angle would be for the motor to be connected to a transmission that could convert torque to hp. At low speeds, it would be all torque. As the vehicle accelerates, the output would shift to hp. This may be a way for electric cars to compete with ICE racecars. The pitstop would be different, tough. Depending on the way the batteries ae replaced, and race strategy, it may work for or against the electric racecar.
___Separately, a ICE-electric Hybrid racecar could benefit from this. However, a ICE-hydraulic hybrid looks better.


people buy horsepower, but they drive torque.
This is the addage repeated by several thousand low horsepower, high torque, diesel car owners across the U.S. My car only has 100 HP but 175 FTLBS of torque. I get from zero to 75MPH alot quicker than alot of my friends who drive their much lighter 130-160HP cars. With the torque that this UQM motor provides, it is quite possible that the EV version will be alot quicker than even the V-6 version.
As far as towing goes, Torque counts more than horsepower. There are alot of older semis out there with sub-300 horsepower engines that tow more than 40,000 LB loads on a daily basis. So long as the cooling system is adequate, I wouldn't see any problem with towing a few thousand pounds of drywall from the local home depot 10 miles away.
Absolutely right about decreased bed capacity though. If the battery pack is placed under the pickup bed (as they traditionally are) there would be much more vehicle weight over the rear axle, reducing gross bed weight limit. On the brighter side, the F/R weight distribution of the unloaded vehicle would be much better, and thats how most miles are driven in pickup trucks, unloaded.

Rafael Seidl

Cervus -

note that recharging a vehicle in 10-15 minutes such that it gets 120 mile range (at what speed/driving cycle???) requires a much bigger power drop that Joe average has at his home. You're talking 220 or even 380V and tens of amperes.

It is possible for the electricity company to come and provide such an industrial circuit, but not to every home on a street. The cost has to be factored into the equation. Electric filling stations would perhaps be a possibility but you get the usual chicken-and-egg problem: Who will open such a station when there are no cars around to use it yet? Who will buy such a car if there are no filling stations?

Therefore, all EV/PHEVS should at least also be able to plug into a regular household socket (110V, 15A) and charge slowly overnight.


> Who will open such a station when there are no
> cars around to use it yet?

Starbucks. I'm not kidding.



I imagine that the overnight charge would be most commonplace. But the fast charge time is good in situations such as long-distance driving where you can't afford to wait 8 hours before moving on. A 10 minute wait is doable on a roadtrip at EV Filling Stations. Also, the technology will no doubt improve.

I'm not sure at what speed that 120 mile range is, though. They do claim the truck will have a top speed of 85mph. But I doubt the batteries would last that long at that speed.

At any rate, I still think it's pretty good for a new battery technology. I'm not against EVs if the tech and economics work, after all. And this seems a step in the right direction.

tom deplume

If you have a wind turbine and an electric car/truck your future fuel costs are known. A large stationary bank of cheap lead acid batteries could handle a quick charge load then slowly recharge later.

John W.

I think this has a real future for several reasons, despite its high up-front costs. (And it will only get better.) As a city transporter that replaces a gas truck that spends thousands on gas a year driving in the city, plus emissions, already there it will pay for itself a lot quicker than some think. (For those who don't drive much, or in the city so much, it won't be nearly as worth it.)

But don't forget about the whole maintenance side of things. EV's will be largely solid state. What will be the moving parts: the stator/rotor? What else? Electric A/C and steering pumps. You have no oil changes, or goo in the engine. No environmental issues with disposing of a zillion gallons of dirty oil every year. No coolant system like in a gas engine, but they will likely still have one. No Transmission headaches and massive repairs. No emissions tests or issues, and our cars today are very complex in this department and getting more so all the time. No exhaust to replace always. No brakes to replace (hardly) as it will stop mostly by using the motor. No wearing pistons, no timing belts, no vacuum lines, no v-belts, no this, no that, etc, etc. Virtually no upkeep when compared to the slugs we all drive now. Simplicity and efficiency in motion.

An entire maintenance infrastructure will fade away, to be replaced by this one. Plus solar will get cheaper and help out much more. (and if you could put a small genset in the bed you could let it run on longer rides, and as you have your half hour lunch somewhere--it would help.) For all you who only look at the gas not paid, you are not considering the whole picture here. EV's will provide mucho savings over their lifetime, assuming the batteries are good enough to last. (Big assumption). Consider how much you pay to keep up your vehicles now over 10 years, esp as they age. Or, especially, if they are domestics. Ha ha ha.

Sure EV's will break too, but the battery will be the biggest concern I would imagine, if most everything else is solid state. If made right they should last years and years and years. And if they get smart and include a bank of ultracapacitors, the batteries will last 3 times as long too. I can hardly wait.


“people buy hp, drive torque”

Not quite. These two are directly interconnected. Simply put, up to about 25 mph it is torque curve which defines max acceleration, after – it is max hp.


For long range driving in this type of vehicle, I still like AC Propulsion's approach: their "long ranger" trailer. It carries an IC engine, fuel tank and generator that converts their TZero EV into a series hybrid. The trailer has stability augmentation and active steering, which allow it to have a short tongue and to follow very close to its EV. It handles as if it were an extension of the vehicle, with very low wind resistance.

For this electric pickup, there's another option: a fuel tank and generator package that would lock into the bed just behind the cab.

I really like the idea of not having to carry around the weight of IC engine, generator, and fuel tank when I'm mostly going to be using the vehicle in pure EV mode. The weight savings should significantly increase the range and performance in EV mode over a plug-in hybrid.


“people buy hp, drive torque”

No the always buy HP. Torque and horsepower related in an engine speed basis.

Acceleration occurs due to a difference in the power absorbed by the vehicle at any given speed point (usally called the road load) and the power created by the engine at any given engine speed.

It would realy be better to nominate say max power (at x rpm) and power at 1000 or 2000 rpm.

Higher torque at lower RPM really just means higher power at given rpm. That's why electric motors are so great. you have high power (compared to an ICE) at basically zero rpm. Now throw in Chorus motor technology and you have a winner!





it is a good idear!!!

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