The company expects to manufacture and sell 300 fleet-ready vehicles by year's end. Among the first customers is Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which has initially ordered four SUTs.

The vehicle maker says its SUTs get about 100 miles/charge and can hit 95 mph carrying five passengers and a full payload. The 0-to-60 mph time is put at 10 sec. The vehicle can plug into a 220-V outlet to recharge batteries in about 6 hr.

The battery pack is a special design from Altair Nanotechnologies Inc., Reno, Nev. The 35-kW-hr pack uses nanostructured lithium-titanate spinel-oxide (LTO) to replace the graphite in negative electrodes of ordinary Li-Ion batteries. The benefit is that LTO does not react with electrolytes in lithium-ion systems. So lithium ions more easily reach the surface of the electrode. The nanostructured electrode also has more surface area for reactions which helps accelerate recharging and discharging.

The nanostructuring is also said to enable battery operation down to –30°C with a charge retention nearly 90% of that at room temperature.