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Summary:

Oil and gas behemoth ExxonMobil has thrown its weight behind a project that combines two gas-saving initiatives: electric vehicle technology and car sharing. Before you celebrate this as a new push to cut reliance on fossil fuels, we should be more exact: If you think of […]

Oil and gas behemoth ExxonMobil has thrown its weight behind a project that combines two gas-saving initiatives: electric vehicle technology and car sharing. Before you celebrate this as a new push to cut reliance on fossil fuels, we should be more exact: If you think of Exxon as a 300-pound linebacker, it has just thrown the weight of its little finger behind the small electric car-sharing program called AltCar launched today in Baltimore with low-speed electric vehicle maker Electrovaya. It’s making a larger push for vehicle technology in general — outside of its deal with Electrovaya — working on synthetic blends and lightweight plastics to help improve fuel efficiency. As the Wall Street Journal put it this afternoon, “The Texas oil giant also wants to make sure that if you ever go electric, there will be a Tiger in your tank (or in the battery that powers your power train.)”

electrovaya-maya300

In a release today, ExxonMobil, which has a market cap of more $326 billion, touted investing some $500,000 for the car-sharing program and an accompanying exhibit. The program will for the first month have just two to three of Electrovaya’s electric Maya 300 four-seaters (introduced last year with a separator film developed by Exxon in its lithium-ion polymer battery pack), although the fleet will increase to 10 vehicles after August 1, an Electrovaya spokesperson told us today.

Aside from Exxon’s involvement, what’s interesting about the fleet is that it’s one of the first opportunities for regular consumers to drive the low-speed electric Maya 300, which is slated to launch commercially in 2011. It has a base price of $25,000, max speed of 25-35 MPH, and range of 60 miles. For an extra $10,000, the company plans to offer a model with a 120-mile range. The idea, as explained to Greentech Media last year by Electrovaya research scientist Edmond Lam, is to target the fleet market as well as mainstream city drivers looking for a second or third car.

In a time when a slew of highway-capable electric vehicles priced for the mass market are on track to launch in the next few years, Electrovaya is taking a different route by focusing on the more established but decidedly niche market of low-speed vehicles for public and private fleets.

As far as car sharing and electric demo fleets go, today’s launch is a modest trial (by comparison, the electric Mini E Field Trial is set to include up to 500 vehicles). Electrovaya says its goal is to “accelerate clean transportation as a commercial reality.” The company has won a  C$16.7 million (about $13.8 million) grant from the Ontario government to do that through development of its battery technology.

When it comes to marketing the the vehicle itself, however, Electrovaya may have to hit the throttle in order to keep up with the new fleet of companies funding up with multimillion- and billion-dollar loans from the DOE to start delivering plug-in vehicles for the mass market within the next several years, and with the China-based automakers like BYD Auto racing to sell plug-in vehicles for well below the Maya 300’s initial price range.

Maya 300 photo credit Electrovaya

By Josie Garthwaite

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  1. Josie
    Good piece. It sounds like Exxon is just putting its little toe in the water with Altcar. I wonder what it will take for companies like Exxon to go “all in” in the green energy sector? As Tom Friedman describes it in his excellent book Hot Flat & Crowded
    Cheers Alison

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  2. Electrovaya has failed to inform Exxon that their NEV/LSV (neighborhood/low speed vehicle) for $25,000-$35,000 is not DOT approved or licensed for U.S. roads. Major PR faux pas on Exxon’s part.

    Speed limit is 25 mph (Federal Law), not 25-35 mph as you published.

    Your publication/site should do their homework before you write articles, rather than sending false and misleading press releases to the public…..even of it’s Exxon.

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  3. Electrovaya has failed to inform Exxon that their NEV/LSV (neighborhood/low speed vehicle) for $25,000-$35,000 is not DOT approved or licensed for U.S. roads. Major PR faux pas on Exxon’s part.

    Speed limit is 25 mph (Federal Law), not 25-35 mph as you published.

    Your publication/site should do their homework before you write articles, rather than sending false and misleading press releases to the public…..even if it’s Exxon.

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  4. Since you have teamed up with Exxon , one of the most greediest oil baron companies in the world, I will make sure I do not buy any of your products if it is going to make exxon richer.

    Think about what the people of the world must think about the huge profits they took from us . Think and leave them behind. Do your own thing . They will eventually eat you up and spit you out.

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  5. [...] and interfaces) for hybrid and electric vehicles — including some of its own, such as the low-speed electric Maya 300 that rolled last month in a small ExxonMobil-backed car-sharing program. Working with nanostructured lithium-ion polymer [...]

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  6. [...] governments have dipped their toes into electric car sharing: ExxonMobil invested about $500,000 earlier this year in a car-sharing program in Baltimore, Maryland that includes a small fleet of electric [...]

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  7. [...] and interfaces) for hybrid and electric vehicles — including some of its own, such as the low-speed electric Maya 300 that rolled last year in a small ExxonMobil-backed car-sharing program. Working with nanostructured lithium-ion polymer [...]

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  8. [...] its Dodge Ram truck in a 3-year demonstration project. These demo vehicles will use batteries from Electrovaya, based in Mississauga, Ontario (see: 20 Battery Startups Hitting the Road With [...]

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  9. [...] energy storage and hybrid and electric vehicles. The company has also rolled out its own low-speed electric vehicle, the Maya 300 (pictured), in a small ExxonMobil-backed car-sharing [...]

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  10. Someone has to point out that in the major cities on the East Coast garages are not the norm. Street parking is dear and finding a spot in front of one’s home is pretty rare. My point is that you will not have a place to plug-in your plug-on car. And with a 25mpg max speed you essentially have a $25k golf cart with doors. Fleet use maybe but I can’t see any other use for the vehicle.

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