By Tyler Anderson
As our world approaches global energy reform, one word encapsulates this new era…Sustainability. Due to radical advancements in battery technology, specifically lithium-ion batteries, EVs (electric vehicles) now have the potential to surpass petroleum vehicles in performance, reliability and have less of an environmental impact.
Alan Cocconi founded AC Propulsion in 1992 to design and build electrical drive systems, and since has become a pioneer in the growing electric vehicle industry, paving a vast interstate for EV technology as a viable, sustainable alternative. In 1987 Alan Cocconi was responsible for the electric components of the GM Sunraycer, which raced in the first ever World Solar Challenge in Australia. With a top speed of 70.2 MPH the Sunraycer won the competition by more than two and a half days.
Since the victory, Cocconi has gone on to develop the drive system for the GM Impact, later known as the EV1. He recently built an unmanned solar powered airplane exclusively for non-military applications. “He likes to be on the edge,” said Tom Gage, President and CEO of AC Propulsion, “and if it gets too close to commercialization then that’s when he’s ready to move on.”
At the core of AC Propulsion are its patented tZero drive system and components. The complex circuitry involved in tZero technology allows the driver to charge the car with 120V, 208V or 240V outlets from their home or office. This battery can also act as power supply and storage for the “grid” (network for generating, transmitting and distributing electricity), which can be sold back to the power company, reducing the amount of strain on the grid. “It’s a valuable feature and the grid operators will pay for that feature, pay for that value.” Tom Gage says. “If you have a bunch of cars hooked up to the grid the cars get paid and it can add up to a hundred bucks or more per month.”
Recently they supplied BMW with 500 tZero component sets for the new Mini E. This fully electric Mini Cooper will be leased to 500 drivers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York areas this Spring 2009. Taiwanese company Yulon Group and California based Tesla Motors have also licensed royalties from AC Propulsion.
These aren’t golf carts, this isn’t the future, this is Now. As companies like AC Propulsion continue with these essential improvements, battery technology will surpass any standard vehicle on the road today. Although this clean alternative form of transportation may currently be out of the price range for an average American, it allows the progression of EV production; creating jobs, advancements, infrastructure and affordability.