1968: AMC's Amazing Amitron Electric Car
By James Grahame
Keith Chapman writes, "Electric cars are a subject of increasing interest lately. But, of course, they aren't all that new - work was going on long ago to try to get a modern electric car into consumers' hands.
Way back in 1968, the long-defunct American Motors company showed an interesting prototype called the Amitron. Besides being, in my ever-humble opinion, one of the cooler-looking electric prototypes I have seen, it also had some interesting claims and features.
A dual-battery arrangement, with nickel-cadmium and lithium-nickel-fluoride batteries, made possible a claimed range of 150 miles (241 km) per charge, with a top speed of 50 mph (80 kph). This with a total battery weight of only 200 pounds (91 kg) which is pretty light for an electric car. Regenerative braking was also part of the deal. The small battery pack just in front of the car in the second picture is the whole thing, and was claimed to have the capacity of the entire wall of lead-acid batteries visible in back (behind the 60's chick in miniskirt and go-go boots).
The car, small as it was, could seat three across - and if you didn't need all three seats, you could deflate 'em to provide some luggage space! The car was apparently well-received when shown to the public, but nothing further ever resulted; the price of the rather exotic batteries probably being one of the major reasons. Still - sorta makes you wonder what this thing called 'progress' is, doesn't it?"