The Solectria Sunrise EV
1996 Tour de Sol Distance Record
Editor's notes: The following news release is reproduced here for its historical interest. Please don't attempt to contact Solectria, author Karl Thidemann, or any of the other principals for more information. In 2005, Solectria was absorbed by Azure Dynamics. Azure abandoned the Sunrise project. In 2012, Azure declared bankruptcy and was liquidated.

In part because of patent encumbrance of NiMH batteries, EV-size modules are effectively unavailable to anyone, including EV hobbyists.

(larger photo)

For more information on the Solectria Sunrise, including specifications, see Wikipedia.

For Immediate Release: May 14, 1996
Contact: Karl E. Thidemann, tel 508-658-2231
Visit our web site at
Solectria Sunrise Sets New EV Range Record - Again
All-composite electric car travels 375 miles on a single charge

(Wilmington, MA) -- Solectria Corporation announced today that unofficial results indicate the Solectria Sunrise electric sedan powered by Ovonic Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries set a new electric vehicle range record by completing 373.6 miles on a single charge in the third day of racing in the 1996 NESEA American Tour de Sol, the national solar and electric vehicle (EV) championship. "This success proves to the world that clean zero emission vehicles can provide range and performance comparable to or better than that of a typical gas car," commented Solectria CEO James Worden, who is driving the Sunrise during the race. The Sunrise, entered in the race by the Northeast Alternative Vehicle Consortium (NAVC), the Boston Edison Company, and Solectria, completed 258 miles on a single charge yesterday during day two of this prestigious event. Today's new record represents greater than a 50% improvement over last year's record breaking run of 238 miles. A total of six electric vehicles produced by Solectria are competing in the eighth annual running of this road rally, which began in New York City on May 12th, and ends in Washington, DC on May 16th.

This race marks the second public competition of the Solectria Sunrise, a unique, full-size, four passenger, all-composite sedan that promises to revolutionize the EV industry. The Sunrise was designed from the ground up to incorporate the latest advances in aerodynamics, material science, and Ovonic Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery technology. Funding for the Sunrise Project, an ongoing effort to provide efficient, safe, and affordable high-performance EVs to the marketplace, has been coordinated by the Boston-based NAVC, with co-funding by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Boston Edison Company, and other corporate partners.

A Solectria Force NiMH sedan entered in the race likewise turned in a superb performance, traveling 244 miles today on a single charge in mixed city/highway driving, edging out a Ford Ecostar which completed 227 miles. The Force NiMH also claimed the first pole position at the beginning of the race by winning an acceleration trial, beating the Ford EV which placed second. The Force NiMH sedan is the first commercially available EV equipped with state-of-the-art Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries produced by Ovonic Battery Company, a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. [OTC-ENER]. "Just a few years ago, production EVs with a range over 100 miles were unheard of. Today, we are delivering these high- performance, long-range vehicles to customers throughout the United States, in Europe, and in Asia," stated Mark Dockser, vice president of planning and business development.

Four more Solectria Force sedans -- America's single most popular EV -- have been entered, and all did well today. A 1996 model owned by Jersey Central Power & Light traveled 129 miles on a single charge. A 1995 model owned by the Connecticut-based Rideshare Company went 141 miles, and a 1994 model owned by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources covered 132 miles. Both of these latter two vehicles received support from the NAVC, and all three of these cars used lead acid batteries. A 1993 Force owned by the Virginia Power Company and entered by the Washington, DC based State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials, traveled 107 miles on a single charge of its three-year old Nickel-Cadmium battery pack. "These achievements by our customers demonstrate beautifully the real-world capabilities of today's advanced EVs," observed Solectria president Anita Rajan.

In addition to the NAVC, which is co-sponsoring three of the six Solectria vehicles entered in the race, other sponsors supporting Solectria's efforts in this event include the Boston Edison Company, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, the Ovonic Battery Company, Sanoh Industrial Co., Ltd., and Quin-T Corporation.

With more than one million miles accumulated by over 200 Solectria electric vehicles produced since 1991, Solectria cars and trucks have proven to be the EVs of choice for public and corporate fleets throughout the U.S. and around the world. The Solectria Force and Solectria E-10 electric pickup truck are the only production electric vehicles that have met the rigorous performance and safety standards set by the nationwide electric utility industry and U.S. Department of Energy coordinated EV America program. A leader in the EV industry, Solectria has pioneered many technological innovations in the manufacturing of advanced EVs and EV components, including all- electric air conditioning and heating, and an automatic battery thermal management system to keep vehicle range consistent even in the worst winter conditions. Solectria EVs are now used by utilities, government agencies and private companies in thirty-five states and five foreign countries, and are widely recognized as the finest production EVs on the road.

A media event will take place at the Finish Line on the Mall at 3rd Street in Washington, DC on Thursday, May 16th from noon to 1 PM. Photos of Solectria's vehicles are available upon request, or may be found at The American Tour de Sol is organized annually by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) of Greenfield, Massachusetts.