Surely you know all about the T-Rex, the three wheeled, reptilian-snouted hoonmobile hand built by the crazed employees at Campagna in Montreal? It’s got 197 horsepower and weighs in at 1,040 pounds, for a power to weight ratio of 5.3 pounds per horsepower. It’s also good in the twisties, capable of 1.3 g in lateral acceleration. Only the starting price (north of $50k) and the limited practicality preclude me from owning one.
A team of Silicon Valley engineers, calling themselves OptaMotive, thought the T-Rex would be an outstanding platform for a Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize vehicle. A few phone calls later, they got Campagna to buy into the concept by selling them a motorless T-Rex chassis, and the E-Rex was born.
The E-Rex will use a water cooled electric motor manufactured by UQM. It’s rated at 167 horsepower peak, and 60 horsepower continuous. Torque (all of which is available at 0 rpm) is 220 foot pounds. Powering a package that will weigh less than 2,000 pounds with batteries and electronics aboard, that translates into some serious scoot. OptaMotive’s goal is a zero to sixty time below five seconds and a top speed of 160 miles per hour.
The E-Rex will have a range of approximately 100 miles per charge, and the lithium ion phosphate batteries used will recharge in just two and a half hours using a 220v, 20A power source. Boosting the range is the drivetrains efficiency (said to be 90%) and the E-Rex’s regenerative braking system, which is 80% efficient.
The bad news? The batteries alone cost $10,000, meaning that a production version of the E-Rex will be even more costly than its gasoline powered counterpart. Still, battery prices will eventually come down, and the E-Rex is an eco-friendly hoonmobile that I can fully embrace. Range is good enough to make it practical, as is the reduced charging time. If the U.S. government continues to subsidize the purchase of battery powered vehicles, OptaMotive may be on to something here if they decide to put the E-Rex into production.