a website collaboration between Science Service and the Smithsonian Institution

1965 - VOLTSWAGON, Made by the Battronic Truck Corporation


CD 2055001 E&MP1.015

Electric Truck

December 29, 1965

VOLTSWAGON - ... electric truck is ahead of the electric passenger car in its development and use. Made by the Battronic Truck Corporation, Philadelphia, this truck is already in use by dairies and laundries in the Philadelphia area.

Similar trucks compete satisfactorily with traffic in many English and Canadian cities, but are being equipped with American-designed bodies. 

Original Caption by Science Service
 Potomac Edison System


Additional Information:

Friday, Dec. 22, 1967 - Sparked by increasing concern over air pollution caused by cars with conventional internal-combustion engines, proposals for electric cars have been regularly tumbling out of Government, industry and academic research proj ects. The latest came last week, when American Motors Corp. showed off its Amitron, a three-passenger, snub-snouted electric car, at a Detroit hotel.

With its advanced power system, declared American's chairman, Roy D. Chapin Jr., the machine "could eliminate many problems that up to this point have made electric-type cars impractical." The car is being developed with an ultimate capability of up to 50 m.p.h. for a range of 150 miles between battery charges. That would be a big step beyond existing designs for electrics, whose usefulness is severely restricted by an 80-mile maximum range on a single battery charge.

Quick Zap. A.M.C.'s hopes rest on a piggyback system of two 25-lb. nickel-cadmium batteries and two 75-lb. lithium batteries being developed by Gulton Industries of Metuchen, NJ. The lithium batteries are for sustained speeds, can store 15 times as much energy per pound as lead-acid batteries now used in conventional cars. For quick acceleration—a safety factor lacking in present electric-car designs—the nickel-cadmium batteries would cut in briefly, could zap the car from a standstill to 50 m.p.h. in 20 seconds. And for longer battery life between charges, the Amitron would have a "regenerative braking system" to generate battery-charging power as the car is slowed.

How close is the car to production? The company has only half a dozen staffers on the project, can hardly foot the bill for a crash program. Though A.M.C. won special congressional legislation last week providing a tax rebate that may be worth as much as $20 million, and successfully negotiated a one-year extension of a $65 million bank loan, it lost $75.8 million in fiscal 1967. And development of the Amitron has a way to go. The car rolled out last week was a prototype with no power plant. First road tests of the power plant will come next year, when the system will be installed in an ordinary Rambler American. Nevertheless, Chapin figures that if all goes well, the electric car could be produced in five years.

That is more optimistic than other carmakers are about their electrics. Ford last week admitted that any use of its new sodium-sulphur battery (TIME, Oct. 21, 1966) is still ten years away. General Motors sees little chance of bringing down the $15,000 it would cost to produce the silver-zinc batteries in its Electrovair II prototype. But the planning goes on, and should ultimately produce practical results. Among other names and notions being concocted by A.M.C. Styling Chief Richard Teague is a car called "the Voltswagon."

Courtesy TIME < http://www.time.com > February 15, .2007

National Museum of American History


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