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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 09:09 GMT
Breaking the engine barrier
A technology company from west Wales has developed a new commercial system for powering electric vehicles, with the aim of creating hundreds of new jobs.
Bluebird Technologies Ltd has focused its attention on the serious mission of turning the multi-trillion car industry on its head.
Based in Pendine, Carmarthenshire, the company has devised a two-pronged approach to the inherent problems associated with electric power.
"Dyson has done for the vacuum sector what we are trying to do in ours, finding day-to-day solutions that are cost-effective and reliable," said project manager Martin Rees.
The company is confident that it can put the new technology into production and create "three to four figure employment" within 10 years.
The company's vision is based round two simple but highly effective breakthroughs.
The development of a pioneering drivechain does away with the need for belts and is seen as the next step forward for electric vehicles.
The second concept of Interchangeable and rechargeable batteries is another radical concept that will push back technical boundaries, said Mr Rees.
The record breaking cars are constructed out of other futuristic materials - lightweight steel, carbon fibre and plastics - from companies seeking to test their own products.
Project director Martin Rees said the company's goal would be to build a new range of commercial vehicles, which would cost just 75p in fuel costs for a journey between Cardiff and Swansea.
Mr Rees said companies and organisations could expect to see their transportation costs reduced by up to 75% - a massive incentive for many firms hit by escalating fossil fuel costs.
But Mr Rees said the plan was to work within those constraints and it has come up with battery recharging stations and a range of other simple measures to make electric vehicles commercially attractive.
"We have tackled the idea of electrically-powered vehicles in a completely different way," said Mr Rees.
"We aim to build bespoke vehicles round the system."
Potential clients include local authorities, who would run their own recharging depots for commercial fleet vehicles, where technicians would simply replace spent batteries with recharged ones.
The changeover would take no longer than filling up a tank with fuel.
"By being creative and innovative, we are taking the thinking behind electric power into different sectors," explained Mr Rees.
"We could well be seeing an assembly plant for these vehicles and we envisage three to four figure employment within 10 years.
"There are some fine, skilled workers here and I would like to see this benefit the region."
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