The Most Expensive Car on the Block

By Bill Moore

Posted: 28 Sep 2009

That's how Steve Dallas' wife characterizes his latest passion, a stylish, two-seat electric car that I got my first look at this evening here in Montreal. Felix Kramer, the founder of CalCars, and I were strolling the indoor mall of the Hyatt Regency after the opening night reception and noticed the bright yellow car pictured above being positioned in what will be the exhibit area of the PHEV '09 conference.

The car is a from-the-ground-up design that Dallas, who owns Toronto Electric, has been working on for the last two years. His firm builds industrial cranes and electric motors, so building an electric car from scratch wasn't totally outside of his skill set, but he was also smart enough to hire the best available talent in his community to style the car, engineer and assembly the chassis, and program the electronic controls and telematics, which includes its own onboard WiFi system.

For styling, he turned to noted race car designer Paul Deutschman, who has designed cars for LeMans. The chassis was engineered from tubular chrome moly steel by a firm that builds Nascar racers. The 49kW AC drive system comes from Azure Dynamics and the 29.2kWh, 307 volt lithium ion battery pack from Valence.

Fresh out of the shop, the car is getting its first public debut for the opening of PHEV'09. Steve tells me that he hasn't even developed a web page for it yet, but this much we know right now, the car is a one-off design due to Transport Canada regulations. While it sounds like Dallas would like to offer the series production models for sale, he is still mulling over his options, so it may, or it may not proceed beyond the point at which it is this evening.

In terms of performance, everything for now is largely theoretical. Acceleration is expected to be 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, comparable to the Tesla. Efficiency is targeted at 128 Wh/km or 207 Wh/mi. At 80% depth of discharge, that would equal a driving range of 100 miles. Top speed is rated at 99km/h (61 mph), largely because Dallas intended the car to be used in urban settings; the next step above a ZENN or comparable neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV).

Empty, the car weighs 700 kg ( 1543 lbs.) and has a payload of 460 kg. The 321 kg battery pack sits under the passenger cockpit, so tipping this car over should be next to impossible; and even if you did, it has a Nascar-style roll cage that will prevent the roof from caving in on the occupants.

The car has two digital display screens; mechanical analog instruments are so last century. The driver's screen displays the speedometer and other vehicle data, while the telematics screen includes GPS and Google maps.

I really think a lot of people could get pretty excited about this the car, which Steve refers to in his spec sheet handout as the TE Option 1, highlighting the fact that the car could accommodate a variety of drive system options from hub motors to range-extended hybrid drives.

For now, though, Mrs. Dallas and her enterprising husband own the most expensive car on their block... and one of the nicest little electric runabouts yet to hit the bricks on either side of the Canadian-U.S. border.

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