The number of electric vehicles being offered by major automobile brands is expanding at a rapid pace. However, there are a growing number of EV possibilities that are being brought forward by third-party companies eager to take advantage of the gaps that exist in vehicle lineups when it comes to battery-powered options. These opportunistic eco-warriors base their electric car designs on existing vehicle platforms that are evaluated for their popularity and their suitability when it comes to electric propulsion.
One of the more celebrated electric conversion companies is Cleveland, Ohio-based AMP Electric Vehicles. According to an article published by GreenCarReports.com, AMP's latest product is an all-electric version of the redesigned Chevrolet Equinox compact crossover SUV. Currently, neither GM nor any other car company offers a battery-powered crossover in the same class as the Equinox, which was a big factor in AMP's decision to go ahead with the conversion process.
The AMP Equinox offers a range of up to 150 miles per charge, and a charge takes only four hours from empty to full when using a 220v electric outlet. Top speed of the Equinox is 90 miles per hour, and it retains the full functionality of the gasoline-powered edition of the vehicle, including five passenger seating, with no loss of cargo storage. The crossover's lithium-ion battery is stored under the rear deck. In normal driving, the AMP Chevrolet Equinox conversion provides acceleration that is on par with its gasoline-powered counterpart, and the vehicle also offers regenerative braking that can recharge the battery while the automobile is in motion.
The ordering process for the AMP Equinox involves either bringing your own Equinox to their facility for conversion, or having AMP help you locate an appropriate conversion candidate. According to AMP representatives, Chevrolet 'should'? honor the existing warranty on the remaining stock Equinox components after conversion has taken place, with AMP itself providing an eight year / 100,000 mile warranty on the battery pack and a more standard three year / 36,000 mile warranty on everything else that it installs in customer crossovers.
AMP's EV edition of the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox is expected to go on sale by the end of 2010. The company has also completed similar EV conversions of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters. The company plans to offer a range of 10 different electric vehicle options to buyers over the next 36 months as it begins to generate revenues through EV sales.
AMP specifically selected the Equinox due to the significant market share enjoyed by crossover vehicles in North America. The market for a battery-powered family vehicle has not been ignored by the world's biggest automaker, Toyota, which has paired up with Tesla motors to create an all-electric Toyota RAV4 which will soon begin making the rounds of the international show car circuit. While Toyota has previously marketed a battery-powered RAV4 in limited numbers, it seems unlikely that the option hit the streets before the first few AMP Equinox models roll off the line.
New car buyers searching for a practical and ecologically-friendly crossover option should not rule out third-party conversions of brand new gasoline-powered vehicles, especially those which come with warranty protections similar to what is being offered by AMP. A major stumbling block, however, is pricing. The AMP Chevrolet Equinox costs $45,000, including conversion and the price of the original vehicle, which is effectively twice the MSRP of a standard Equinox. This type of premium pricing, combined with the uncertainty surrounding a product which has yet to be tested over the long term, could see the AMP Equinox restricted to well-heeled drivers willing to become early adopters in the name of pursuing their green passions.