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The Current from ECM - Affordable EV Here Today

The Current is an electric car that is highway-ready, seats four, and is available right now. Headquartered near Denver, Colorado, Electric City Motors has distributors in Colorado, California, Florida, Hawaii, and Michigan as well as in Canada.
ECM Current

by Aaron Turpen

Specs:

  • Type: Dedicated electric
  • Class: 4-door compact hatchback
  • Manufacturer: Electric City Motors
  • Propulsion system: Battery Electric
  • Top Speed: 75mph
  • Vehicle range: 45 miles/charge (standard)
  • Fuel(s): N/A
  • Battery system: Lithium Polymer/Nilar
  • Time to full battery recharge: 6-7 hours (standard 110v)
  • Price: $28,995 (base)
  • Availability: 2009

The manufacturer says

The Current is a zero emission, electric vehicle designed for urban passenger car usage. This vehicle is going to set the new standard in affordable, full-featured, 4-passenger electric highway vehicles.

Overview

The Current is a small car, to be sure, but its interior room is roughly equivalent to the Toyota Prius. It includes all of the extras you'd expect from a low-cost, family sedan including power windows, stereo and CD player, alloy wheels, etc.

Six color options are available and the Current has received US DOT approval for road and highway use and with a top speed of 75mph, the car is definitely freeway-ready.

The Current is a zero emission, electric vehicle designed for urban passenger car usage. This vehicle is going to set the new standard in affordable, full-featured, 4-passenger electric highway vehicles.

Its drive motor is a 45kW workhorse and optional 144V Nanotube batteries can extend the range of the vehicle all he way to 300 miles per charge. At a price, of course: doubling the cost of the car.

A few things are missing from this battery electric vehicle, on closer examination. There is no regenerative braking, air conditioning is optional and not standard, and some of the information given on the car is somewhat contradictory.

The dealership brochure, for instance, lists A/C as if it were standard equipment and it lists a top speed of only 70mph with a range of 65+ miles per charge. A visitor to the ECM website gets the impression that the whole company is merely its founder, S.T. Tripathi.

The company was founded in 2007 when Tripathi, an automotive dealership manager, saw the need for an affordable, highway-ready low-emissions vehicle. He set about designing and setting up manufacture of the Current.

The car has seen limited sales and distribution since its debut in 2008, but is now considered a production model (2009) with dealerships nationally.

What we like

Available Now: This little EV is available right now rather than as a promised future product and it is ready to drive. Most dealerships that EMC has contracted with carry at least one model in-house.

Meets the Need: The Current meets the need of most urban or suburban residents. It has the range, speed capability, and size to meet the requirements most people must have for an ICE replacement or second car.

More Models On the Way: EMC plans to bring five more models to the public in the near future, based on this platform; a small truck, van, and others.

What we don't

Questionable Details: The details are a little sketchy and the information available about the car is limited. Another question raised and unanswered is the car's manufacture: is it American, foreign, or a mix?

Meets Standards at What Level? Other than the DOT certification for minimum crash test standards, there is little information on the vehicle's performance in safety testing overall. Airbags and other safety devices are not listed in the vehicle specs.

Conclusions

The Current is, overall, definitely a great addition to the EV market and has the advantage of being one of the very few available right now, today. It's hampered by the apparent bootstrap startup methods being used to promote it, however, and does not appear to have any real marketing effort behind it. Understandably, EMC is focuses what marketing it can muster on establishing dealerships to sell the vehicle rather than on customers to purchase it. Given the founder's background, this makes sense.

FutureCars hopes to get its hands on one of these EVs for a test drive in the near future.

Dive Deeper

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