REV 300 ACXEnlarge Photo
The U.S. military is hardly the first place you'd look to find an electric vehicle, but Canadian firm Rapid Electric Vehicles has just received a four-vehicle order from the U.S. Army for a test fleet of all-electric vehicles.
The vehicles will be tested by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research development Engineering Center (TARDEC), which is currently researching ways to improve the military's energy security.
With a lithium-ion battery pack, 125 killowatt motor, a range of up to 120 miles per charge and a top speed of 90 mph, the electric cars punch a set of specifications which sit in line with Nissan's 2011 Leaf.
But you won't see many of these vehicles at your local car dealership.
The four vehicle ordered by the U.S. Army, three REV 300ACXs - based on the 2010 Ford Escape, and one REV 300AZX - based on the 2010 Ford 150 pickup truck - are more than expensive electric car conversions of existing gasoline vehicles.
Unlike most of the electric cars offered to consumers at the present time, the REV vehicles are able to charge from either a level 1 120V domestic outlet or a Level 2 J1772 as well as feed power back into a domestic 120V outlet when needed.
This feature turns the vehicle into a mobile power station, capable of providing power whenever and wherever the vehicle is, provided of course that the battery pack is charged.
This and other smart-grid features such as integrated GPS-based wireless EV fleet management systems that particularly interest the U.S. Army.
Vehicles which can provide both motive power and silent backup power are ideal for many circumstances, from disaster emergency response through to distributed power generation for combat situations.
In the past, the U.S. Army have also worked with EnerDel on a hybrid version of the Army's number one go-anywhere vehicle, the Humvee.
In fact, we've heard through the grape-vine of hybrid and fully electric combat tanks, capable of a more silent approach than the traditional, multi-gallon per mile tanks of last century.
Rapid Electric Vehicles, based in Vancouver, BC, specialise in fleet vehicles rather than customer sales, but also offers plug-in Prius conversions for owners of Toyota's popular hybrid.
However, as with many conversion companies, REV's biggest enemy right now is the level of coverage the Canadian company can offer on its vehicles. Warranty for all vehicles is limited to 2 years for battery packs and 2 years or 100,000 miles for drivetrain claims.
At an undisclosed price, the four vehicles represent an interesting move towards alternative fuelled energy solutions within the military. Let's just hope all the cars work better than the minimal warranty cover offered.