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What Is It Like To Drive A Turbine Electric Truck? (Video)

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Common advertising practice tends to show you how your life can be made better by a product--easier, perhaps, or more fun, or bringing friends and family closer together.

If you're advertising a commercial truck, you might show it hauling heavy loads, or maneuvering with ease around a city.

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Or, if you're Wrightspeed, you show a converted electric truck drifting on salt flats and being chased by a helicopter. Because why not?

Reader and BMW ActiveE driver John Higham recently got the chance to drive one of Wrightspeed's trucks.

He may not have had the chance to drive it sideways across a desert, but he does describe it as "one bad ass truck"--and that it's "not as sexy as the new BMW i8, but perhaps more important".

Wrightspeed's trucks aren't solely electric-powered.

They do move you down the road using an electric motor, but supplying power to the battery is a range-extending generator--a concept you'll be familiar with from the Chevrolet Volt, or the BMW i3 REx.

Regular piston-engine generators are available--but Wrightspeed also offers micro-turbines.

The company lists several benefits for going down the turbine route: They're durable, easy to maintain, and powerful for their size and weight. Not for no reason are turbines used in aviation and electricity generation.

They can also run on all manner of different fuels--if you're a trucking company with access to diesel, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas or landfill gas, then all are suitable options.

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Higham also says it sounds like an airliner ready for takeoff--"albeit not quite as loud". Just imagine how tense the film Duel would have been had the anonymous trucker's vehicle sounded like a 747.

A large battery pack does enable electric-only driving, making a Wrightspeed-converted truck a great deal quieter than your average truck most of the time.

Regenerative braking is also strong--"by far the strongest regen I have ever experienced", says John, "definitely one-pedal driving".

Turning to the spec sheet, we aren't surprised--the company's website says it has 400 horsepower of regenerative braking. And for actual driving, the electric motor has a fit-for-purpose 1,100 lb-ft of torque.

Better still, the firm describes it as a "plug and play" setup suitable for virtually any commercial truck.

The most important figure, of course, is economy.

Due to the plug-and-play nature it's hard to pin down an exact consumption figure--and the huge variation in loads carried by trucks makes it even more difficult.

But Wrightspeed does say fuel use can drop by 50 percent or more, depending on the drive cycle. Given how thirsty trucks can be, that could mean huge savings for operators.

And if you're based near salt flats or a desert, it could be quite fun to drive too...

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© 2014 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.