Published on June 24th, 2009 | by Joanna Schroeder
Cruise the City in the Maya 300 but Don't Leave Town
“To my knowledge, at this point, ExxonMobil has no interest in putting charging stations at retailer locations,” said Pat Brant, Chief Polymer Scientist with ExxonMobil Chemical Company. I just had to ascertain if ExxonMobil was really in the car business after they announced their partnership in launching the Maya 300 and it appears that the answer is no. However, ExxonMobil Chemical Company, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil that was built from scratch 18 years ago, is is in the business of developing technologies to improve technologies with battery applications.
So here is how the partnership works. ExxonMobil Chemical Company developed the pioneering lithium ion battery separation technology. They then partnered with Electrovaya, to integrate the technology into their batteries and then manufacture the batteries. The batteries are then given to Electrovaya subsidiary Maya, who then manufactures the Maya 300. So there, ExxonMobil is not in the car business.
Speaking of the car business, one of the burning questions is how is the Maya 300 different than other electric vehicles. There are three main reasons.
- The Maya 300 is powered by a Lithium-Ion SuperPolymer® battery (made by Electrovaya). The lithium-ion polymer technology platform enables lithium to be moved faster and more efficiently, allowing more energy to be stored in a smaller space. Most other hybrid and electric vehicles are using nickel-metal-hybrid batteries that take up more space and are heavier.
- Smaller battery. Smaller space. A conventional lead acid battery pack on average takes over five times the space and weight of the Electrovaya battery pack.
- Style. The Maya 300 looks like a traditional four-door car with a hatchback. On the road, aesthetically speaking, you’d be hard pressed to tell it was an electric vehicle.
Yesterday, I got ahead of myself and didn’t know a few important details which I’ll now share with you. First, this car is being produced for city fleet applications and won’t be available for consumers, but Electrovaya said they are working with other OEMs to bring a consumer all-electric vehicle to market using similar technology as the Maya 300.
Second, the Maya 300 is approved by the Department of Transportation as a neighborhood vehicle. This means that the car must travel posted city speed limits which in most cases are 35 mph. However, the car can travel faster but is not approved to drive on the highway. Sankar Das Gupta, President and Chairman, Electrovaya, did say though that the highway version of the Maya is under development and he anticipates it will be to market within the next few years. That being said, the car has all the safety standards most vehicles do, including airbags.
Here are the stats for the Maya 300 which BTW is called the Maya 300 because it is in its third generation.
- 12 kilowatt hours
- 27 kilowatt hours in the extended battery
- Weight is 2,000 lbs
- 15 kilowatts
- High torque acceleration and handling at low speeds
- Automatic transmission
- Front-wheel drive
- Dual airbags
- Anti-lock brake system
- Steel body construction
- Battery designed to shut down flow of electricity if overheating occurs
- Technology to prevent short circuits
And the car has air conditioning, heat and power windows.
Despite the fact that the Maya 300’s initial intention is for fleets, the partnership includes an urban car sharing program called the AltCar program. This program is being deployed by the Maryland Science Center. They may seem like a strange bedfellow, but CEO Van Reiner told me that the center has a rich history in science and transportation and Baltimore was the first city to unveil the railroad. The AltCar program, which launches on August 1, allows consumers to rent the car and then drive it around town to get the feel of driving an electric vehicle. Can’t wait? Buy a ticket to the science center between now and July 31st and they’ll take you for a free spin.
Baltimore is the only city with the AltCar program but it is applicable in other cities across the country, especially those in California where they have zero emissions programs and recently passed the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. However, I challenge cities in the Midwest to give the cars a try. I’m not sure if the Maya 300 will catch on but the time is right to test the technology. Only time will tell.