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Steve Titus with his Solar Bug engineering prototype
It might look like a huge wedge of yellow cheddar cheese, but Steve Titus' Solar Bug engineering prototype represents an innovation in neighborhood electric vehicles, one based on an ATV chassis.

Mr. Titus' Solar Bug

Video interview with Steve Titus of Free Drive EV at the AltCar Expo in Santa Monica, California

By EV World

When a local rancher's ATV blew its gasoline engine, Steve Titus saw an opportunity. Why not convert it to electric?

Now three and a half years later, that salvaged Polaris all terrain vehicle, has found a second life as an engineering prototype dubbed the Solar Bug and is the basis Titus' new manufacturing business, Free Drive EV.

The Solar Bug isn't the first electric ATV. Rick Doran introduced one years ago called the Gorilla. But what distinguishes Titus' creation is how he used the Polaris chassis to create a distinctly different type of EV as defined by the U.S. DOT's FMVSS 500 Low Speed Vehicle standard.

For starters, the driver and one small passenger sit tandem and straddle the 48-volt battery box. Steering is through the same handle bar found on any ATV, as is throttle control. The passenger cabin is fully enclosed, giving it close to all-weather capability.

Aesthetically, the prototype Solar Bug, resembles a wedge of cheddar cheese, which Titus good-naturedly acknowledges and is addressing by having a much more attractive body designed for the production model. To give the prototype a bit of energy autonomy, Titus attached several small solar panels to the roof and sides of the vehicle that provide a from an estimated 1 to 10 percent of the vehicle's range of 30 miles on a charge of its AGM, zero maintenance lead-acid batteries. Owners will have the option to add additional panels, which Titus says will allow a vehicle to recharge enough to reach an electric power outlet.

The price of the production model is $9,500 with sales to be through a network of golf car and neighborhood electric vehicle dealers.

Times Article Viewed: 9241
Published: 22-Dec-2006

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