Lead-acid battery technology is outdated.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.

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