eBox Test Drive
eBox Test Drive
By Noel Adams
Saturday October 20, 2007
One of the attractions at the Santa Monica Alternative Fuel Vehicle expo is the chance to drive some of the electric cars. Today I had a chance to drive the eBox, an electric version of the Scion Xb that is being offered by AC Propulsion.
When I got in the eBox it was ready to go, all I had to do was hit the accelerator and we were off. I had to take it very carefully until we got out of the expo area and onto the main road. The eBox moves very quietly at low speed so pedestrians don't always hear you coming. Once on the road however a light push of the accelerator pedal and you are up to 25mph, the speed limit, in an instant.
The first thing that you notice when driving the eBox is the regen braking. Regen is controlled by a slider mounted vertically on the dash that runs from minimum at the top to maximum at the bottom. When I started driving the car the slider was set to about three quarters of the way to maximum so it gave you quite a lot of slowing when you took your foot off the accelerator. The regen has been strong enough to hold the car still when it was sitting in forward with no pressure on the accelerator.
Now, I am used to the Prius which has a relatively mild regen when you pull your foot off the accelerator, only getting heavier when you press the brake. The regen on the eBox took some getting used to and as I came to stop signs I found myself slowing too quickly and having to give it a bit more juice. After a ten minute drive however I found that I was getting used to the different regen and I am sure that it would become second nature after a couple of weeks. Regen is also the noisiest part of the eBox ride, the rest of the ride being very quite.
Driving West on Aviation we came to a fairly steep down hill. Taking the regen up to minimum put the car into coast and it began to pick up speed on the down slope. Towards the bottom of the hill I adjusted the slider back to maximum and the car started to slow as the regen whined loudly. The car came almost to a complete halt at the stop sign at the bottom of the hill and I needed just a touch on the brakes to bring the car to a complete stop.
From the stop sign I did a right turn onto Centinela and an immediate left into a side street for a quick spin around the block. The power steering is firm without being heavy, pretty much what I get from my Prius. The car handles really well. As I came back onto Centinela I had to do a quick left turn back onto Airport and traffic was heavy . I punched the accelerator and managed to squeal the rear wheels just a touch. There was no lag, as I have seen with some other electric vehicles, you push the accelerator and the power is there.
Coming back up the hill I floored it again and took off like a jackrabbit. I was up to 45mph in a few seconds, even climbing up hill, and I had to back off because by this time I was way over the speed limit. Before I knew it I was back at the Barker hanger and threading the eBox between a Prius that looked just like mine but had been converted to a plug-in hybrid, and a Honda Fuel Cell vehicle. Turning off the eBox with the key puts it into park automatically.
I was very impressed with the eBox. The ride is comfortable, the power steering is just how I like it, and there is plenty of acceleration. The regen braking takes a little getting used to but if you can't deal with heavy regen you can always turn it down to a level that suites, even if this will give you a slight loss of range. With a range of over 150 miles however, that isn't going to be much of a sacrifice.
Once again ACP have shown that they know how to build electric cars.