Update #1 Sept-08-2009 09:33 PDT:
EMC e-mailed us a second front-end picture of the Flash plug-in pickup.
Electric Motors Corporation's new teaser photo of the Flash, the first of two plug-in serial hybrid trucks that it plans to start building next year, shows that it has unconventional styling to match its unconventional powertrain.
“You’re familiar with how the Prius is different from a typical car -- the Flash is like that for a pickup truck. It’s that kind of different,” Wil Cashen, CEO of EMC, said yesterday.
EMC hopes to build the plug-ins in Indiana with manufacturing partner and RV maker Gulf Stream Coach. The EMC Flash pickup is based on the Ford F-150 and is intended for families and personal-use truck buyers.
“It’s an electric truck with an onboard range-extender generator system,” Cashen said. “We’ve taken an F-150 and have done something similar to Tesla, where they used a Lotus sports car for the underpinnings of their electric car. We’re using an American-made vehicle for [the underpinnings] of our truck.”
The Flash will use an electric motor to drive the wheels, while a small 1.2-liter gas engine is used as an on-board generator to recharge the batteries when power levels drop below a certain point, the same approach that GM is using with the Chevy Volt.
Cashen said that the Flash will have three different battery options: The smallest, least-expensive configuration is expected to get the equivalent of 40 mpg. Adding a second layer of batteries is estimated to get up to 100 mpg and adding a third set, Cashen said, will return up to 250 mpg. The batteries are mounted in-between the truck’s frame rails.
“We’re building a vehicle that doesn’t force the customer to edit their lifestyle,” Cashen said. “The unique thing about a truck is that [battery] packaging isn’t an issue like it is for cars.”
The Flash is expected to have the same work capabilities of the 4.2-liter six-cylinder Ford F-150 model that was discontinued last year. That truck could tow up to 5,700 pounds and carry up to 1,940 pounds. However, it won’t be able to handle many off-road scenarios. Cashen said it’s primarily designed as an on-road truck.
“We’re starting out with the simplest unit first to get people used to them and get them out on the road,” Cashen said. “We could easily make the truck make a lot of horsepower, but if the customer has to pay for $90,000 in batteries, we’ve wasted our time. Over time, that could change as more battery manufacturing capacity comes online and prices hopefully start to fall.”
EMC hopes to keep the Flash’s starting cost under $50,000. Buyers may be able to qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.
A second, commercial truck will follow the Flash's full debut in November, called the Thunderbolt, Cashen said. The Thunderbolt will be aimed at the construction, emergency vehicle and motion picture industries. It is expected to have greater battery capacity than the Flash, and should be able to function as a power generating solution at job sites. It’s also expected to operate as a mobile communications platform, with high-speed wireless Internet access, acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Flash made its sneak preview debut this evening at the Green Jobs for American Exposition at EMC's Wakarusa, Ind., headquarters, where the Flash and Thunderbolt are expected to be built.