Amp'd Equinox electric crossover, converted by AMP Electric VehiclesEnlarge Photo
AMP says the car will achieve up to 150 miles on a full charge, but quotes a more realistic "real world" and "all season" driving range of 120 miles.
The 5-kW onboard charger in the Equinox electric uses a standard J-1772 charging port--the same as the 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevy Volt--and accepts both 120-Volt and 240-Volt current.
AMP quotes recharging time at 4 to 5 hours at 240 Volts, and 8 to 10 hours using 110-Volt power.
Motor noise, software need work
We didn't have a chance to test it on the open road, but AMP quotes a 0-to-60-mph time of less than 7 seconds, and a top speed limited to 90 mph. It says the converted car weighs roughly 300 pounds more than the standard Equinox with a 2.4-liter four.
The driving experience was adequate, but not particularly refined.
Motor noise was always present--a chronic conversion problem once engine and transmission sounds are eliminated--and the regenerative brake blending software nowhere near as smooth as that from experienced hybrid makers like Toyota and Ford.
That's not surprising from a small, publicly-traded company without government grants or loans, but we suspect it could turn off the progressive soccer moms who are the target for this vehicle.
Standard Chevy options, warranty?
Since it's based on a standard 2011 Chevy crossover, the AMP'd Equinox comes standard with power windows and lock; tilt and telescoping wheel; an AM/FM/XM six-speaker stereo with auxiliary input jack; and one year of Onstar service.
Options include power sunroof; backup camera system; leather seats, heated in the front; premium eight-speaker audio system; Bluetooth wireless package and USB connectivity; and other features from the Chevrolet list.
CEO Burns said that the original warranty on every part of the vehicle not touched by the conversion "should be honored" by Chevrolet dealers. AMP warranties its battery pack for 8 years / 100,000 miles, and all other electric components for 3 years / 36,000 miles.
And in the end ...
AMP has also converted a Saturn Sky two-seater sports car to its electric drive system. Being smaller and lighter, that prototype is quicker (0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds), but the company expects the Equinox to have much broader appeal.
It may be that if AMP can continue refining its conversion and sign up dealers, and if it has sufficient cash in the bank, it may be able to sell a few dozen or even 100 electric Equinoxes a month.
Drop in the bucket
But that number is a drop in the bucket compared to the tens of thousands of electric and plug-in cars that will be sold in the U.S. next year.
And those cars will be backed by automakers who have devoted a lot more testing and development to their vehicles than AMP can likely afford--which may reassure the soccer moms who want to go electric to transport their above-average children.
If you are bound and determined to have a zero-emissions crossover--and willing to pay $50,000 or so for it--you may soon have two options: the Amp'd Equinox, and the Toyota RAV4 powered by Tesla.
Each is a conversion, the base vehicles are both highly rated leaders in their segment, and we look forward to seeing what they're like on the road. But we think AMP is destined to be at most a side player in the coming wave of electrified vehicles.