The eBox, repackaged from mainstream Scion xBs by AutoPort Inc. of New Castle, Del., has quietly made a name for itself. The first refitted car, now 4 years and 11 months old and with 70,000 miles on it, still uses lithium-ion batteries in exceeding a 100-mile driving range with no problems, brags its creators. The eBox's impact has been so impressive that it became the muse for BMW's MINI EV.
In Denmark, the university's newly minted eBox has work to do. It will play a part in evaluating a Vehicle to Grid operation in Kongens Lyngby.
The research is pragmatic. The goal, attainable: to integrate electric vehicles like the "test" eBox with Denmark's electric power grid, whose main propellant is wind power drawn from offshore farms.
“Integration between the power grid and electric vehicles will become essential and beneficial as EV numbers increase over the next decade,” said Tom Gage, CEO of San Dimas, Calif.-based AC Propulsion, a pioneer in electric-car technology that was founded in 1992. “The University of Delaware has developed communication and control systems for V2G technology and has had good results on the U.S. grid.
“In Denmark, (researchers) will now shift its focus to another important application of V2G research, which is buffering intermittent renewable energy resources. Working to integrate the power grid and EVs, as part of the 'Smart Grid' initiative, makes economic sense because it benefits EV users and provides power back to the grid. We are happy to be working with DTU and look forward to furthering V2G implementation in Europe.”
The Denmark university needed an eBox specifically because it is equipped with AC Propulsion's patented integrated charger. Now that regulatory hurdles have been cleared and the car is in tow, research is set to begin. Researchers would not have been able to start without the special charger, which allows grid-connected charging and discharging at up to 18 kW.
With V2G technology, EVs that are plugged in support grid functions as they recharge their batteries. EV owners get paid for the use of electricity obtained from their cars.
Five eBoxes have generated revenue at the University of Delaware for two years, by providing grid regulation services. AutoPort does the electric-car conversions from Scion xBs based on the AC Propulsion drive train and vehicle design.
There are 25 eBox vehicles in circulation in America and in Europe, including the first one ever made that is owned by actor Tom Hanks. Most belong to research operations at universities, utilities and car companies, but some are privately held. The cars cost $55,000 to convert from mainstream Scion xBs after they're bought new from Toyota, according to a Wikipedia report. The prototype eBox was unveiled in Santa Monica, Calif., on Aug. 18, 2006. They have a top speed of 95 mph and go from 0-to-60 in 7 seconds.
You can reach TorqueNews.com's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected] or at (248) 747-1550.
Image source: AC Propulsion