Is this the future of electric vehicles?

April 8, 2009 4:42:19 PM PDT
Some are calling the eBox the future of electric vehicles claiming it may someday be able to pay for its own fuel on a day to day basis. It looks just like other electric cars, but this model does something no other car can. The car not only takes in energy to charge its battery, but it also gives it back, returning energy to the power grid.

The vehicle's full name is the eBox V2G which stands for vehicle to grid.

Here's how it works. Left plugged in for several hours, the battery stores more energy than it can use. That energy goes back to the power grid and with systems still being developed right now its owner receives a credit on the electric bill for the energy returned. Energy experts call it the cash back hybrid.

"It's like taking 10 air conditioners worth of energy and saying, 'hey take it back, if you need the help,'" said Paul Heitmann with Comverge Business Development. "So that's the basic idea of vehicle to grid."

When the car is charging, the owner can flip a switch to actually return energy. That causes something you rarely see to happen. The power meter actually runs in reverse.

Utility management company, Comverge, says with the right platforms in place, cars like this one could provide stable energy and put money into the pockets of drivers. The company says the vehicle doesn't just save green, it is green because no gasoline or emissions are involved.

On a two hour charge the car will drive about 150 miles. Comverge CEO Bob Chiste, a former Enron executive, says with the proper infrastructure, it could be much more than a commuter car.

"You need just like you have gas stations across the country you'll need some sort of a general fuelling station other than your garage to get the distance," he explained. "So if you're 100 miles from home and you have a 100 mile range, you'll need an electric facility."

The car handles pretty much like any other car but the one thing you notice is how quiet it is inside. That's because there is no engine. It goes 0-60 in seven seconds and drive up to 90 miles per hour, but we didn't test that fact.

"The acceleration is phenomenal because all electric vehicles have a very powerful torque capability," said Heitmann.

Gulf Coast residents might take note that the manufacturer claims that during a hurricane, the car's owner won't need a generator for the house. The car can supposedly power your home.

At $70,000, that's pricey but future models will cost $40,000. Currently the car is in the prototype stage but the final version should be out within five years. Texas is now considering legislation to buy a fleet of the cars.

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