Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Car roundup: VW looks at electric cars in Mexico and more money for batteries

VW is getting ready to collaborate with Phoenix Motorcars to build EV's in Mexico. VW has operations in Mexico which among other things build the old-style VW Bug for sale in Latin America. The old-style Bug cannot be imported to the U.S. because of emissions standards. "The plant for the venture, called Pristine International, will be built in Puebla, Mexico. It is unclear what kind of vehicles these cars will be."

A few years ago I attended a ZAP shareholders meeting at which they discussed a plan for ZAP to work with VW of Mexico. They would import gliders (engineless cars) from Mexico (made by VW) and convert them to electric drive. The thinking was that with the "New Beetle" there would be a resurgence of nostalgia for the old Beetle, and an electric Beetle would add another level of saleability. Obviously Zap never consumated the agreement, however in Zap's used car sales division they've long had one or two Beetles which had NEV characteristics. (25 miles/hr max) Since the Beetle is a four-wheeler it has to meet DOT crash safety standards but by keeping it an NEV they could sell it without going through crash testing. ZAP since started selling the Xebra under the same business model.

It's unclear from the linked article just exactly what the agreement is. However Phoenix Motorcars has expertise with LI-ION batteries and therefore can bring to market a more appealing car. They also have to have been doing crash testing on the SUV they've designed.

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