Stop Snickering: ExxonMobil Lends Tech to Launch Electric Car

The world's largest publicly traded oil company is supporting an urban electric car-sharing program. Let the jokes commence

Electrovaya's New EV: The Maya 300

ExxonMobil and Toronto battery company Electrovaya this week announced a car-share and rental program in Baltimore. Dubbed Altcar, the pilot program will let visitors to Baltimore's Maryland Science Center test-drive the low-speed electric cars, which are expected to go on sale in 2011 for around $20,000.Electrovaya

An oil company helping launch an electric car? The jokes write themselves. (Launch it where, into space?) But it's true: low-speed electric carmaker Electrovaya launched its Maya-300 car this week with help from ExxonMobil. The oil giant's "SuperPolymer" separator film is used in production of Electrovaya's lithium-ion battery. But wait, there's more.

This week, the two companies announced a car-share and rental program in Baltimore that'll take the name Altcar. The pilot program will let visitors to Baltimore's Maryland Science Center test-drive the low-speed electric cars, which are expected to go on sale in 2011. ExxonMobil has reportedly backed the project to the tune of $500,000.

A Toronto-based company, Electrovaya plans to sell the Maya-300 for $20,000 to $25,000, though don't expect it to compete with six-figure electrics like the Tesla Roadster. With a range of 60 miles, a top speed of 35 mph, and eight to 10 hours for a charge, the Maya 300 is strictly a grocery getter for short-distance neighborhood or campus travel. The company says An extended-range battery option will double the range while adding $10,000 to the price.

But Electrovaya, primarily a battery company, says it's aiming also at the market for full-strength electric cars, which is expected to get a boost from $8 billion in US Department of Energy aid announced today. The company's got a $45,000 version in the works that'll keep up with highway traffic.

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