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Tesla? Ha, who needs it! Here comes AMP!

| Wednesday May 28th, 2008 | 8 Comments

AMP%20electric%20car%20no%20oil%20needed.pngTesla has long dominated news of electric cars, with its sexy Ferrari-like styling, famous customers, and tabloid worthy behind the scenes politics. But what if you don’t have in excess of $109,000 for the base model? What if you don’t want to wait a year? What if you don’t want to settle for a close cousin of the golf cart? What if you’d like to travel further than your commute?
Up until now, your options were pretty well non existent. Now comes the AMP, which looks suspiciously like a Saturn Sky. That’s because it is, converted to be a plug in electric, with a 150 mile range, 0-60 in under 6 seconds, at a total pre-tax cost including the car of around $50,000. That’s $10,000 less then the deposit alone for a Tesla!


AMP, or Advanced Mechanical Products has created a car power system based around Lithium Phosphate batteries, which are apparently safer than the at times troubled Lithium Cobalt batteries, are non toxic, and weigh 1/3 that of typical car batteries. This enables the overall weight of the car to remain the same from before the conversion, retaining the balance and stability that was engineered into the original Saturn.
Why Saturn? In part because their control system works directly with the existing computer system in the vehicles, which one would surmise results in cost savings and functional integrity of a proven system. Why the Sky? My guess is because it’s a visually appealing vehicle, sexy enough to attract lots of upfront press, and will draw early adopters who want to impress people with their car. AMP does plan to convert other types of Saturns in the future, including SUVs. This would be a real breakthrough, moving past the speedbump to wider EV adoption among families.
My eyes zeroed in on a page that said What We Don’t Have and was surprised to see detailed something I hadn’t considered: With a car like this, there is no engine oil, clutch, transmission or differential fluids needed, and tune ups are history. This saves both money and the use of chemicals that otherwise might find their way down storm drains.
Exciting as this car seems, I have some qualms about it: For a high end, big investment, the site is fairly amateurish looking, and has multiple typos. I can sympathize, having been an entrepreneur myself and getting excited about an idea, you sometimes drop a plate or two while in a rush to market. But in this arena, presentation matters, you really want to be on point. The site doesn’t give enough concrete info about the actual mechanics of the revamped car, the testing of it, and how well it functions, both from the start and over a long period of time. Only one of the founders has experience in the automotive industry, of which they don’t specify. And you can only buy it if you live in Cincinnati, where the cars are made. That could be seen either as a desire to have hands on customer service and troubleshooting at the ready for these first generation vehicles, or a lack of confidence in the durability and longevity of the cars.
However, despite these reservations, it is highly encouraging to see a company bridging the gap between pure utility and pure luxury electric vehicles. Stay tuned, and let’s see where this road leads…
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.


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  1. May 28, 2008 at 12:09 pm PDT | Anonymous writes:

    Once a car-lover and mechanic like my self started looking at these new fangled electric cars, I am in love. No more fluids! No more transmissions!! bye bye air filters!! No more fixing grandma’s + wife’s cars to save a buck and lose a weekend!!!!! These units will make internal combustion look like medieval times!!!
    HIT THE MARKET ALREADY!! I AM SAVING ALL MY PENNIES TO BUY YOU!!! Of course, all of our electrical infrastructure is to be sold to big oil before this can happen. How else can the ‘free’ market be controlled. Damn the stonecutters.

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  2. May 28, 2008 at 13:28 pm PDT | HHO writes:

    Most people can’t afford that. Its a good sign that there’s more competition to bring prices down. I’ve converted my car which did about 25mpg to run HHO gas and get about 60mpg. Things are changing and its about time!

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  3. May 28, 2008 at 15:05 pm PDT | Matt writes:

    Too bad its going to fail. Noone is going to pay 50,000 for car that looks exactly like a 26,000 car. People aren’t humble like that.
    Why else does the Prius widely outsell the Civic and the Camry hybrids?

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  4. May 28, 2008 at 21:44 pm PDT | jon writes:

    I like the idea that it is based on an everyday car. What would be nice is to be able to run my present car into a company that would retro fit all electric gear. That would be an instant save for the planet. No need to scrap what was oil and start a new with electric just use a conversion kit.

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  5. May 28, 2008 at 23:27 pm PDT | Paul Smith writes:

    Agreed Jon. Well AMP seems to be starting on that path, as they’re aiming to do other Saturn models as well. Hmm, maybe you’re on to something Jon. Any entrepreneurs listening? Or perhaps the man behind this electric biodiesel Hummer? http://twurl.nl/8tcqdr

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  6. May 29, 2008 at 20:07 pm PDT | Tom Saxton writes:

    It’s all too easy to throw up a website saying you’re going to make awesome electric vehicles, but it’s all smoke and mirrors until you’ve passed the crash tests.

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  7. June 05, 2008 at 21:46 pm PDT | Paul Smith writes:

    And here’s another proposal in Finland, this time with Toyota Corollas. Sounds a wee hippy hopey, but you never know…http://springwise.com/weekly/2008-06-05.htm#sahkoautot

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  8. September 22, 2008 at 14:41 pm PDT | Jennifer writes:

    Well, Matt, the Prius outsells the Honda and Toyota Hybrids because it gets the best gas mileage. If people are looking in that market segment, they want the best bang for their buck.

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