Who says green can only mean clean. Li-ion Motors intends to add “mean” to that list with upcoming unveiling of the start-up maker’s battery-powered supercar, the Inizio.
One of the big winners in last year’s $10 million green car face-off, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize, Li-ion has shifted gears with Inizio, which it claims can launch from 0 to 60 in just 3.4 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 170 mph – “without emissions,” the maker emphasizes.
While Tesla and some other specialty makers might debate Li-ion’s claim to be building the world’s first electric vehicle supercar, the Inizio clearly underscores several significant and converging trends in both the high-line and battery car automotive segments.
Though high-line buyers might not have to worry as much as more mainstream customers when it comes to the price of fuel, there appears to be a significant amount of interest in alternative propulsion. Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Lotus are among the many well-known luxury brands exploring the use of battery power.
At the same time, many green buyers have been trading in more luxurious products specifically to get clean technology and would readily welcome something more exotic.
Then there’s the simple reality that today’s battery technology is expensive and difficult to make a good business case when aimed for lower-priced market segments.
Now add the fact that electric motors can churn out tremendous amounts of tire-spinning torque – reaching maximum torque, in fact, the moment they start spinning.
In the case of the Inizio, Li-ion will be offering three separate variants, the $139,000 R, the $189,000 RT and the $249,000 RTX, or Rally Touring Extreme. The first two variants use a 175 kWh – or 235 horsepower –motor. The RTX opts for a 290 kWh permanent magnet motor – or 389 hp — which yields a significant boost in performance, albeit while cutting into range.
The maker still claims the 81 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack on the Inizio RTX will be able to yield up to 200 miles per charge – driven far less aggressively than it’s capable of, naturally. Those batteries, Li-ion Motors claims, can be fully recharged in as little as 4 hours using a high-performance 220-volt Level II charger.
As with other makers who have claimed such short charging times, it needs be emphasized that the special chargers required demand extremely high amperage levels not typically found in the average American home. Without extensive electrical work the batteries could take anywhere from 8 to nearly 15 hours, the latter using the typical public charger.
For those who can’t swing a Ferrari budget, the Inizio R, or Rally, edition can still launch from 0 to 60 in 5.9 seconds, with a rated top speed of 130 mph, and 150 miles range from its 40.3 kWh battery pack.
The RT, or Rally Touring, model, is the slowest of the three, at 7.1 seconds 0 to 60, and a top speed of 132 mph, but Inizio here focuses on range, a 97 kWh battery pack rated at a maximum 250 miles.
There are an assortment of options, including 6-piston oversized brakes – with Inizio claiming it will soon add carbon-ceramic matrix brakes to the list – a movable rear wing and adjustable-height suspension.
The 2-seat supercar has a 114-inch wheelbase and measures 78 inches in width. An emphasis on aerodynamics and lightweight materials helps improve both range and performance. An even lighter exterior carbon fiber body kit is listed among the options.
The Inizio is a big shift for Li-ion, which captured victory in one of the three categories of the Auto X-Prize, last Summer. Its Wave II was a quirky but aerodynamically extreme 2-seater that won in the Side-by-Side competition by delivering the equivalent of 187 miles per gallon on its lithium batteries.