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Phoenix Motorcars Books Orders for All-Electric Truck

The all-electric Sport Utility Truck (SUT).

Phoenix Motorcars has received 75 fleet orders from several municipalities and one utility company for its new zero-emission, all-electric, freeway-ready sport utility truck (SUT). The company, which is on target to manufacture and sell 500 fleet-ready vehicles by year’s end, will produce 16 pilot-build vehicles next month.

Some of the 16 vehicles will be used to continue validation of the federally mandated safety test process. The company is working with Boshart Engineering, an Ontario, California company that specializes in vehicle certification services, to gain its Federal Motor Vehicle Certification. (Earlier post.)

The company also confirmed that in consideration for a three-year exclusivity agreement within the US, Altair Nanotechnologies has received a 16.6% ownership in the company. (Earlier post.) The three-year exclusivity agreement provides Phoenix with limited, exclusive use of Altairnano’s NanoSafe battery packs in four-wheel, all-electric vehicles having a gross weight up to 6,000 pounds.

Phoenix must meet minimum battery pack purchases, annually, to maintain the limited exclusivity agreement. The minimum commitment to maintain exclusivity for 2007 would provide $16 Million in battery pack sales to Altairnano.

The Phoenix Motorcars sport utility truck combines the Altairnano 35 kWh li-ion battery pack with a 100 kW peak, 55 kW continuous motor from UQM Technologies. The motor develops peak torque of 550 Nm (406 lb-ft). The SUT can cruise on the freeway at up to 95 mph while carrying five passengers and a full payload. It exceeds all specifications for a Type III ZEV and has a driving range of up to 130 miles.

The battery can be charged using an off-board high-power 250 kW charger in less than 10 minutes to 95% SOC. Charging with the on-board 6.6 kW charger takes 5 to 6 hours. The battery has a life-span of 12 years or more.

Phoenix Motorcars’ 2007 market strategy targets operators of fleet vehicles, such as public utilities, public transportation providers, and delivery services. A limited number of vehicles will be available to consumers in 2007 with an expanded-consumer launch scheduled for 2008. Phoenix Motorcars will introduce a SUV model in late 2007.


Mark A

This is great, and the future. Would be nice if it was under 20K, with financing and a 7 year warranty. Now offer us a no frills, Cobra inspired 2 seat commuter car for under 14K, and I would be a new owner.


Outside that fact that 250kw would take more than 220 volts at 1000 amps or 440 volts at 500 amps, the power of a small town, this sounds good. Seating 5, handling a load, 95 mph and 130 mile range are all good.


I wonder if Utility customers don't even bother stepping down to 220V. Take it before the transformer for the charging station at several thousand volts...significantly reduces the current demand. I doubt they really need to charge the vehicles up in 10 minutes though (but it is nice to know it is capable of doing so).


SJC, Patrick,
While the 250kw power source is in the domain for commercial/indusrtial power feeds, the onboard 6.6kw charger is doable for home recharge. Most new US homes have a 100amp max connection. If you use electric heating, it is ~200 amps. A proper apartment often has a 50-60 amp setup. All of them are 110 volts. One can charge while sleeping, 5-8 hrs, at home, or at a recharge station that has a high power supply in 10min.


Oh yeah, I am all for charging off peak at night for 6 or more hours and even quick charging when needed may be ok, but the realities should be considered. Many utilities synchronize commercial AC units so they don't all randomly come on at about the same time. Similar measures could probably be done with quick charging.


I wonder if ultracaps could be used at filling stations to smooth out the load.


This is the first I've heard of it being available to consumers (but only in CA, according the the website.)

Does anyone know if this vehicle (or the SUV) is/will be available with all wheel drive?

Also, would it do the 80 mile drive from Denver to Summit county (elevation gain of about 5500') on a charge?

If so this could come very close to being my only car. Exception would be road trips, which would require an on-board or towed genset or widely available quick-charge infrastructure.

This seems very promising!!


I am not sure why a 250 KW charger is seen as some big load. It's not large for a commerical facility wired for 3 phase 480 volt service. A 3 phase 480 Volt, 100 amp circuit provides about (480 x 100 x 1.73 =)80 KW and would recharge a 35 KWH battery in about 30 minutes.


It may not be much larger than the load a commercial building, say 100,000 square foot factory would be, but the power company has planned for the time of use profile for the building, it is not going anywhere an is predictable. Now take 100,000 of these vehicle and have them all over the roads quick charging who knows when and you have a transient problem.

Rafael Seidl


while I agree that night-time charging is the most sensible with regard to installed generation and grid capacity, it is not necessarily true that rapid charging would destabilize the net. For example, the high-voltage, high-current socket could come with power electronics that ramp up the connection slowly via PWM and circuitry to minimize line EMI. Same when the battery is nearly full and demand can be ramped down. This might add a few minutes to the charge cycle time but that's hardly a dealbreaker.


PWM of an AC line voltage would create worse EMI. Not as strong but now you are talking about generating higher order frequencies that would be very transmittable by the short length of a power cable. The Ultr-low frequency (60hz) of typical AC, on the other hand, would not transmit very well at all from a cable unless it were 1000's of miles long.


Heck, it may not be a problem, but ask EPRI first. Those are the folks that look at the grid and what it can do. They said nighttime charging would be ok on a fairly large scale. I don't recall them making a statement on large scale quick charging 9 to 5 on a midweek July afternoon with ACs a blazin'. You might just plug in and the network says sorry, your charge will take 2 hours and cost you 3 times as much for time of use.

Lou Grinzo

Great comments (as is the norm for GCC).

Personally, I'm not too concerned about the various charging scenarios. If it turns out that people quick-charging at 3PM causes a problem, then we'll find a way around it, as in using ultracaps at recharging stations (as someone mentioned above). Who knows--that might be enough of a business to keep all the gas stations from closing. (Just kidding.)


I read an interview with both the ceo and chief sales guy form pheonix and they stated that they will be selling these vehicles at a significant loss which is being offset by the ZEV credits. However, they HOPE to be able to sell them at a profit before the credits expire in three years. So I think there is little hope for a $20,000 version anytime soon. It sounded like the battery was the big cost barrier.


From what I heard, they get the SUVs from some undisclosed Korean manufacturer without engine, trans, tank, etc. I think these BEVs sell for about $50k even after the rebates. Cities like L.A. would want them in fleets to show they are trying to clean up the air. That is a good first market for these guys. Once one city buys them, it is easier to make the next sale.

Rafael Seidl


if the network tells you that a "fast" recharge in the middle of a hot summer day is actually going to take 2 hours and cost you 3x the nighttime rate per kWh, that´ll teach you to wait until after dusk to recharge. I see no problem with that at all.



This Korean manufacturer is well known SsangYong.


That would be kind of like saying "out of gas" like during the '73 oil embargo to teach you to fill up when you can. Or there has been a lot of demand for gas, so the price per gallon is now 3 times what it was a few hours ago. The lack of availability or large price fluctuations have never been popular, but point taken,

Roger Pham

This electricity truck (SUT) would cost on the same level as the Tesla Roadster, at ~100,000 USD, given the cost of the 35kwh battery pack at $75,000 USD a pop.

While this may be OK for a heavily subsidized fleet vehicle that needs 130 mi electrical range daily, for personal use, a 11 kwh battery ($23,000 USD-cost) coupled with a perhaps 30kw (~$3000 USD-cost) gasoline, natural gas or LPG genset can bring the vehicle cost down to half (~under 50,000 USD). Electric range would still be about 43 mi/charge, without ever the worry of running out of battery charge. The genset would qualify as a SULEV given its steady-state use, and the entire vehicle would be have an additional PZEV status.

If a H2-FC range extender is used as in the Ford Airstream concept car, then the vehicle would be a bona-fide ZEV in a big way, and may qualify for other benifits or subsidy? Since this PHEV vehicle may need but one H2 fillup per month given daily electrical charging at home, H2 can be produced and dispensed to the cars at one central location in the city, thus avoiding the issue of H2 transportation or distribution. Dual-powered vehicle like this may qualify for grants or subsidy from both H2 research fund and PHEV research fund, and the integration of the two energy sources will speed up the public-use research phase with more data points obtainable simultaneously, to help sped up the transition to a renewable energy economy.

In areas with cold winters, a PHEV with either H2-FC or ICE would be more desirable, since cabin heating is done with free waste heat from either the FC or ICE. A pure BEV would waste precious electrical power heating the cabin. Even in SoCal with mild winters, PHEV is still more desirable, given the fragile electrical grid situation there, with prolonged black-outs in the near past.

Potential problems with fast charging of under 10 minutes are many. These are:
1) expensive infrastructure modification, including expensive measures to ensure no disruption to the power grid from these huge surges.
2) stress on the battery due to the high current and heat that may shorten its life, and
3) the inherent danger of fire, melt-down, or even explosion should an electrical short-circuit occur. 250 kw of charging power is a very big wallop that really do damage real fast even before the short-circuitry can be recognized and stopped.


The main part of the vehicle is made in Korea by SsangYong. From the looks of things, I'd guess that Phoenix is going to have some trouble actually assembling them in quantity in California.

Interesting article with some photos --

Firm powers up
10:00 PM PST on Sunday, January 7, 2007

Phoenix Motorcars Inc. hopes to produce 20,000 electric vehicles a year some day.

But for now, the Ontario vehicle manufacturer plans to sell 500 cars by the end of the year...


Ontario, California is a good place to be located. Riverside and San Bernardino get most of L.A. and Orange Counties smog, they need to produce less of their own anyway.


I think the important thing here is that it is a good first step. As sales increase, production ramps, eventually prices will come down.

I believe the staggering cost of the batteries is largely due to the fact that Phoenix is having to pay for Altair's R&D as well as tooling, which is a hefty sum (Altair losses money at the moment BTW).

I agree with the comments regarding the genset. The advantages of liquid fuels is quite clear: high energy density, existing infrastructure. The downside to liquid fuels is that we don't use them properly. I'd guess that with a 40 mile all electric range, people could easily do 80% of their driving. That would have a HUGE impact on CO2 emissions. Not to mention that a good parallel hybrid setup, which is what an electric vehicle with an onboard genset would be considered, should be able to get ~50 mpg (mixed driving, lower value on the highway)

hampden wireless

Looks like you could drop a genset in the cargo bed.

I wonder what the actual consumer selling price is?



The price of battery per se was never disclosed. Different experts estimate it price as slightly higher than A123 Li-ion, in the range of 450-600 $ per Kwh, which place 35 Kwh battery in 15-20 thousand range. Mass production should drive the price lower, but not very much. For PHEV applications 5000$ battery sounds like OK. Ni-Mh battery for Prius costs about 2000$.


Regarding costing of the battery pack a comment by Kent Beuchert at the Energy Blog seems relevant.

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