Li-ion Motors Inizio: If Tesla Were A SupercarS

This is the Li-ion Motors Inizio — a prototype all-electric supercar with a range of 250 miles and a 170-mph top speed. It hopes to build them starting next July for a mere $139,000 — if it can.

Does the name Li-ion Motors sound familiar to you? They should, if you're a fervent fan-boy of the Automotive X-Prize. The North Carolina-based electric automaker and electric auto conversion-maker won the X Prize for the Side-by-Side Alternative Class for its all-electric Wave II. While that's a piddlingly beige appliance car, they're looking at the Inizio to be more of a Tesla Roadster-killer thanks to its higher top speed (the Tesla Roadster Sport's limited to a very un-supercar-like 125 MPH) and all-American looks (unlike the bastardized-by-batteries British bloke Tesla uses).

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The Inizio's powered by lithium-ion batteries (duh!) which generate a power output of more than 40kW (and a potential upgrade up to 96.7kW), with an electric motor delivering 145kW. That gives it an Inizio-to-60 (pun!) speed of just 3.4 seconds.

But it's not just the speed that's cool. Although the battery pack delivers a range of up to 250 miles per charge (obviously not at top speed), there's also the possibility of hot-swappable battery packs. Li-ion Motors is looking to allow the supercar's three battery packs to be easily removed and swapped out with a scissor-lift and a car lift. While not necessarily easy, it's still better than trying to slap a new battery into your iPhone. Or, you know, a Tesla Roadster.

After getting DOT approval on their built-by-hand platform, Li-ion hopes to get this better-red-than-dead supercar out to the public in July of next year. They're hoping for production to reach somewhere around 15,000 units per year by some as-yet-unannounced date.

But Li-ion has a troubled record. Launched as a mining venture, Li-ion has been accused of running "penny stock" schemes, owes the U.S. Internal Revenue Service $250,000 in back payroll taxes and has said it needs $5 million to commercialize the models its developed. An investigation by Greenwire found the company "has vacuumed up $50 million from stock holders in 10 years with little to show for it."

We'll believe it when we see it, but for the moment Li-ion's focused on just getting their prototype working and ready for production-by-hand. It's good to see an electric car company setting its sights at reasonable heights. Else you might end up like Elon Musk.