The idea of an American-made extended-range plug-in utility van may have faded – for now, with the failure of Bright Automotive – but there remain some companies kicking around that exact idea across the pond.
UK-based Intelligent Energy (IE) and Revolve Technologies have worked together for a year and a half on an extended-range plug-in utility vehicle called the Emerald Automotive t-001. Aside from a clunky name, the partnership has produced two prototype vehicles that each feature an electric powertrain that is assisted by a diesel-powered on-board generator, or "range extender." EVO makes the electric motor, while Ford Europe makes the generator.
The companies claim the van gets about 193 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), though that's measured using a different driving cycle than the one the EPA uses in the U.S. Still, that's respectably efficient, and the companies are working to boost the fuel-efficiency by about 25 percent. In all, the van can go about 66 miles on electric power and another 463 miles with a full tank of gas. The UK's Technology Strategy Board helped provide about $8 million to help develop the van.