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SAM 2-passenger EV from Switzerland
Two-passenger SAM will cost about US$11,000 when it goes on sale in 2002.

SAM: The Sparrow Killer?

Our first look at new Swiss-built EV commuter.

By Bill Moore

It looks like something "Q" would come up with in a James Bond flick. You can almost imagine the new SAM concealing under its molded black polyethylene skin a dangerous array of secret weaponry and gadgets.

But the SAM isn't some spymaster's fantasy. It is a real electric vehicle built for not one driver -- a la the Corbin Pacific Sparrow -- but an honest-to-goodness two passenger EV that will sell -- so its builders say -- for less than the Sparrow, at least in Switzerland.

Cree AG (Creation Research Engineering and Ecology AG) unveiled the SAM just this week in Biel, Switzerland. What information EV World gleamed came from an EV World reader in Switzerland (Danke sehr, Felix) and off the company's web site, which is available in either German or French language editions. AltaVista's Babelfish helped translate the German into English for me.

Here's what we know so far.

The SAM seats two in tandem. Each rider is provided with a 3-point safety harness. Integrated into the front seat is a special structure that also provides rollover protection. Braking comes from a trio of disc brakes on the three-wheeled vehicle. Some of the vehicle's kinetic energy is recaptured through regenerative braking.

SAM is powered by a modularized drive system consisting of the electric motor, controller and 14 lead-acid batteries, presumably delivering 168 volts of energy.

One very interesting innovation is a "battery" insurance program. For 95 Swiss Francs a month, the owner can insure they will never be confronted with the cost of having to replace the vehicle's battery pack. Cree will supply a fresh set if and when needed under this program.

In addition to the drive module, the SAM consists of two other modules; the aluminum chassis, which is built by a sub-contractor, and the double-walled plastic body, itself composed of just 4 major components. The entire vehicle weights just 545 kilograms (1,200 lbs.). Cree advises that SAM meets all relevant safety standards for its class.

The company claims the vehicle has a range of between 50-70 kilometers (31-43 miles) and has a top speed of 85 kph (52mph). Acceleration from 0 to 50 kph is 7 seconds. Recharge time takes about six hours for a full charge at a cost of 1 Swiss Franc or about 60 cents in the US.

SAM is intended for urban driving only and in Switzerland requires a PW license to operate. The vehicle will come in 5 distinctive "flavors": Anthracite Black -- pictured above -- Mint, Blue, Orange and Caramel.

The company plans to give the residents of Biel the opportunity to test drive the vehicle over the next few months, prior to the vehicle going into full production. Interested individuals can sign up on the http://www.testsam.ch web site. Initially, sales will be handled by the COOP grocery chain in Biel.

Times Article Viewed: 9447
Published: 26-Aug-2001

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