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Baltimore Sun, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Jun. 16--With gas prices at more than $3 a gallon, a no-gas-required, all-electric car would seem to sell itself.

The catches are that the Miles ZX40 reaches only about 25 mph, has a range of about 40 miles and takes five to eight hours to fully charge. Despite those limitations, its importer and electric-car advocates see it as a demonstration of developing technology that may one day lead to consumer-quality electric vehicles.

"I believe we will see the cars become more sophisticated and fully highway capable," said David Goldstein, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, based in Gaithersburg.

The ZX40, a street-legal electric vehicle manufactured in China, is being imported by the U.S.-based Miles Automotive Group and is to go on sale at Foreign Motors on Belair Road within the next week. Scott Donahoo, owner of Foreign Motors, said he will get a 10-car shipment to start and possibly more later.

Donahoo has one ZX40 on his lot now. The car plugs into a wall socket to be charged, according to Miles Automotive. It comes equipped with the amenities of a commercial passenger vehicle, including a CD player, air conditioning, cup holders and fog lamps.

Donahoo will be the only dealer in Maryland to sell the ZX40, Miles Automotive chief executive David Hirsch said. The ZX40 will cost about $15,600, including freight, Donahoo said. He is hoping to market the car as a commercial vehicle, primarily to security services and for use in compact areas such as college campuses.

The ZX40 is not the first low-speed electric vehicle to be sold in the United States. But in Maryland, it would have been illegal to drive until January, when a state law outlining standards for low-speed vehicles and allowing them to be registered took effect.

As of April, only seven low-speed vehicles had been registered in the state, said Buel Young, a spokesman for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. The number does not make a distinction between low-speed and low-speed electric vehicles.

Low-speed vehicles are four-wheeled vehicles, other than trucks, with maximum speeds of 20 to 25 mph, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Commonly referred to as "neighborhood electric vehicles," or NEVs, they must have head, stop and turn signal lamps, reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, safety belts and vehicle identification numbers. In Maryland, they are legal to drive only on roadways where the posted speed limit is 30 mph or less.

NEV manufacturers say the recently passed law will lead to a swift increase in the emission-free, battery-powered NEVs.

"We were very instrumental in helping get legal in the state of Maryland," said Russ Kiefer, director of sales and marketing for Global Electric Motors LLC, a DaimlerChrysler AG company that has been manufacturing NEVs since 1998.

"The law will make a difference," Kiefer said. "The paperwork is easier. It's a registerable car."

Miles Automotive plans to begin distributing a highway-capable electric car that can go up to 80 mph by the end of 2007, CEO Hirsch said. The car is being crash-tested in China under U.S. safety specifications, he said.

Goldstein said advancing battery technology, including lithium ion, may one day make batteries capable of powering cars for many miles and at highway speeds. He said lithium ion batteries are about four times as powerful as lead acid batteries, which are typically used now.

"It's the early stages of what we see as an emerging trend," Goldstein said. "It's no doubt we're going to see more Chinese-built cars in the future of the U.S."
source: tmcnet.com
 

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Well, GM EV1 came and dissapeared 10 years ago, in spite of having a top speed of 80 mph and was actually drivable, as long as the range was kept to less than 100 miles. Thus hybrids came next.
 

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Oh how cool! I can't wait for the high-speed one to be available in CA so I can buy one! How come I didn't hear about this till now???

The EV1 was a great car, the ultra high cost and impracticality killed it. Besides, it came out when gas was 0.95 a gallon. If GM introduce it today, along with today's battery tech and mod it to 4 seats, it would sell much better.
 

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pro-active risk takers

The Chinese gov't supports this project under the name Tianjin Qingyuan Electric. The car appears to be a converted Daihatsu move. Daihatsu a subsidiary of Toyota has been a pioneer in minicar making in Tianjin going back to the 80s.

The gov't and Qingyuan deserve credit for venturing into a challenging but risky area of production. The lead acid batteries for these cars are too heavy and their useful life is shortened by either overcharging or undercharging. But even if this enterprise fails it will succeed by learning how to develop more practical all electric vehicles and the infrastructure they require.

Now it would be great if big cities would take the cue and set aside urban areas for exclusive electric vehicle use.
 

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I'm not so interested in the ZX40, but this one:

XS200 All Electric Vehicle
Powered by breakthrough Chinese Lithium-Ion technology, the Miles XS200 has an anticipated speed of up to 80 miles per hour and a range of 200 miles.
Projected MSRP: $28,500
Unveiling late 2007

So it would probably become the first street legal Chinese made auto to be available in the US, even before Geely or Chery!

I've always wanted an all electric car - can't wait!
 
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