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A ritzy new electric car

Feb 24, 2011 2:24:00 PM - thestate.com
Have you ridden in an electric car yet?

Turns out, they’re fast and eerily silent, with just a slight electric whine as they build up speed. At stoplights, there’s no idling whatsoever. Only the lights in the dashboard show it’s on. And the car I learned this in on Wednesday was developed and manufactured in our own backyard, at Mooresville-based Li-ion Motors (think lithium-ion batteries).

I was among the participants at a media event at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, which just unveiled its new charging station for (free) use by guests driving electric vehicles. It’s the first such charging station at a hotel in the Southeast, and the first at any Ritz-Carlton, said spokeswoman Heidi Nowak. A number of hotel guests – she was unsure exactly how many – had asked in recent months if charging was available because they drive electric cars. “I think we’re going to see a growing trend of usage,” she said.

In Charlotte, neither electric cars nor charging stations are commonplace yet, though many are on the way. The Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt aren’t yet widely available here. Duke Energy and the city of Charlotte are in the process of installing charging stations around town. Some locals are privately converting gas-powered cars to electric – Li-ion brought one such car, a Mini Cooper, to show off.

But the real head-turners were the models Li-ion has developed and hopes to mass-manufacture later this year, as soon as the federal government gives the OK: The Inizio, a bright-red convertible sports car with a top speed of up to 170 miles an hour and a range of up to 200 miles (price: $139,000); and the Wave, a sleek bright green model with a top speed up to 90 miles an hour and a range also approaching 200 miles (price: $39,000). (The company is taking reservations at www.li-ionmotors.com).

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