South Africa’s Hideous Metair Met-Elec-R60 Plug-In Vehicle Makes us Chuckle, but Proves Lead-Acid Works (Video)

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 5

Lead-acid battery technology is outdated.  It simply has no place in today’s plug-in vehicles.   Or does it?

South Africa’s Automotive component manufacturer Metair set out on a mission to prove to the world that lead-acid, though heavy, is still a feasible solution for plug-in vehicles and, though its Met-Elec-R60 is downright hideous, Metair met proved it point and met its goal.

On Thursday, Metair unveiled the homebuilt Met-Elec-R60 extended-range electric vehicle.  The aim of this internal project, launched in July 2012, was to develop and produce a plug-in vehicle with a materials cost of less than R 60,000 ($6,473 US).  That figure includes all of the components needed to convert the donor vehicle over to an extended-range electric.

Met-Elec-R 60

Met-Elec-R 60

Obviously, with that budget in mind, lithium-ion battery technology was out of the question.  But lead-acid would work.  As managing director of First National Battery, Dr. Louis Denner, explains:

“It is a known fact that lithium-ion battery technology is the power source of choice for electrical vehicles, but using lead-acid battery technology with a range extension option is a viable, more economical alternative.”

Interestingly, the Met-Elec-R60 was never meant to become a commercially available vehicle.  It was more or less a fun project that employees at Metair created during downtime in their work schedules.  As Metair CEO Theo Loock says:

“The Met-Elec-R60 project is a great success.  We did not do it to exploit commercial opportunities. We achieved all our goals within a precise time period and without impacting on any employee’s day-to-day responsibilities. Management and associates from across the group worked together to design and build the vehicles using different and complementary technologies, housed across a number of our subsidiary companies.”

Though we don’t have actual specs on the Met-Elec-R60, Loock claims that this vehicle easily proves that with lead-acid technology, an extended-range electric vehicle can be built to near lithium-ion capabilities, but for a fraction of the price.  Furthermore, the worldwide availability of lead-acid batteries means that almost any nation around the globe could build such a vehicle within its own country.

Homegrown transport solutions.  That’s an idea we should all see value in.

via AutoblogGreen

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5 responses to "South Africa’s Hideous Metair Met-Elec-R60 Plug-In Vehicle Makes us Chuckle, but Proves Lead-Acid Works (Video)"

  1. David Mirray says:

    How is this an extended range EV? it doesn’t appear to have an ICE.

    Lead Acid may be cheap, but it typically needs to be replaced every 3 years. So in the end it winds up costing as much as lithium.

  2. Cavaron says:

    They should make a business out of it or make the changes puplic domain.

  3. Future Leaf Driver says:

    I think the coloring scheme makes the car look ugly (looks like it was assembled from multiple cars) otherwise pretty much plain jane. But if it’s one less gas burner on the road, the more the better!!

    Plus Lead Acid way cheaper to replace than Lithium Ion, just more often.

  4. Bill Howland says:

    If they use a good brand of battery it will be fine… Delco (may God Love ’em) made the absolutely worst batteries, from the 1980’s on. In the 50’s to 70’s they made decent batteries.. Must have been the Peter Principle at Ac Delco.

  5. Jenny-Lee says:

    I think this is wonderful!! A single mom can do with a car like this, only question…. were can I buy one of them?