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Auto X Prize Finalist: Amp Sky

Consumer Reports News: October 23, 2009 01:15 PM

In meeting several Auto X Prize finalists this week, it was clear that there are many ways to approach the $10 million challenge to develop a marketable car that can achieve a 100 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). On hand at the New York City event, Advanced Mechanical Products (AMP) shared their smart strategy for producing electrified cars: convert existing production models.
The general concept behind the Amp Sky, and eventually an undisclosed Chevrolet model, is to replace the internal-combustion powertrain with a battery-electric system. And the key here is that Amp is matching the original configuration pound for pound, therefore retaining the weight and weight distribution of the original donor car. The benefit is that General Motors has spent hundreds of millions developing the car, including brakes, suspension, and steering systems. By sticking within basic factory specs, the “Amplified” vehicles should perform in a similar manner and ease future servicing.
Amp-Sky-batteries With the Saturn Sky, Amp removes the engine, transmission, and differential, replacing those components with about 900 lbs. of Valence lithium-ion batteries and motors. The result is a weight balance within one percent of the original car. Amp claims their changes retain similar crash performance as the original car. To keep the transformation discreet, Amp routes the electric powertrain information to the existing instrument panel. Aside from badging and lack of exhaust pipes, one would be hard pressed to identify a parked Amp Sky from a gasoline-fueled model.
The two rear-mounted motors can accelerate the car “quicker than the original.” Published company estimates for 0-60 mph times range from six to eight seconds. Top speed is 90 mph. Based on usage, Amp figures 150-mile range per charge – much farther than the average commuter drives daily. Recharging fully drained batteries would take 3.5 hours, though a typical day may require just 1.5 hours from a 220-volt outlet. The company estimates its MPGe rating to be 125.
Amp is accepting preorders on the Sky, and the conversion cost is $25,000 plus a donor car. The batteries and motors are warranted for three years, 36,000 miles, and the company predicts the batteries will retain 80 percent of capacity at 100,000 miles.
 — Jeff Bartlett

Learn more about the Automotive X Prize competition. And find out more about driving green in the Consumer Reports special fuel economy section.

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