Electric G-Wagen SUV Says Get Outta My Way

There was a time not too long ago when the words electric vehicle (EV) were basically shorthand for small. In fact, some of those early EVs were so tiny you half expected to see a kid following behind the thing with a remote control in hand.

But, for good or ill, time moves on and as the technology has advanced car makers have been able to make EVs bigger, brighter and in the case of the new G-Electric, very boxy.

g-electric

Image via E-Traction

The G-Electric is an electric version of the G-Wagen, Mercedes popular SUV. Short for Gelandewagen (German for cross-country vehicle), the G-Wagen is a four-wheel drive developed by the German auto maker in the seventies. It was built for the military and dozens of national armies around the the world, including the U.S. military still retain a roster of the vehicles.

This electric conversion is one-off project by the Dutch green transport company e-Traction. It has been realized to serve the research needs of e-traction and the Dutch Ministry of Defense and it’s currently in the hands of the army in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn.

In place of a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 engine producing close to 500-horsepower, the G-Electric has 92 percent efficient in-wheel electric motors. The car has a lithium-ion battery packaged under the passenger compartment, leaving more space under the hood for future experiments.

With fuel prices running to historic highs major automakers, looking for an alternative to petrol powered cars, have sunk serious cash into producing EVs. At the same time, the development of lithium-ion batteries has helped revolutionize the electric car. These batteries, the same kind that power most mobile phones and laptops, are powerful, relatively light, have a high energy-to-weight ratio, recharge quickly and hold charge when not in use.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.