Sunday, November 14, 2010

"headed for California roads next year"

Some vehicles defy easy classification. Take the plug-in electric Peraves E-Tracer, headed for California roads next year. Balanced on two wheels and operated with a throttle, it's similar to a motorcycle. But it's also fully enclosed in a Kevlar fiberglass shell.

With two bucket seats, a floor-mounted brake, windows, even a windshield wiper, its interior feels more like a car — a toppled-over, traveling egg with windows all around, providing fantastic visibility.

It is, at once, an electric automobile and a motorcycle — and a prizewinner.

"It's not a hybrid. It's a hybris, a snake, a serpent with two heads," said Roger Riedener, the Swiss chief executive who dreamed up the idea and who walked away with $2.5 million in Septemberfor winning the 2010 Automotive X-Prize Alternative Class.

Beating 127 other X-Prize entries competing to build the world's most fuel-efficient vehicle, the E-Tracer can travel more than 200 miles on a single gallon of gas equivalent and reach a potential top speed of 200 mph.

It is the only X-Prize winner scheduled to go into production. About 100 of these "less than $100,000" vehicles will be built each year, their shells assembled in Thailand and their drivetrains installed in San Dimas at AC Propulsion, which developed its electric motor and battery system.

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