The AMC Amitron is an electrically powered concept vehicle that was built in 1967 along with Gulton Industries in Metuchen (New Jersey). The Amitron was the prototype of a three-seat, wedge-shaped microcar with a total length of only 2159 mm. “The modern looking Amitron was one of the most promising electric car developed in the sixties.”
When the vehicle was introduced to the public in December 1967, Roy D. Chapin Jr. — AMC’s CEO — announced that Amitron “could eliminate many of the problems that have made the use of electric vehicles impractical.” Its electric system with two 11 kg nickel-cadmium batteries and two 34 kg lithium batteries (331 Wh / kg) was developed by Gulton Industries and should provide the car with a range of 240 km at a speed of 80 kph.
The battery designers chose lithium as an electrode because “it is both very reactive (easy to oxidize) and has a high electromotive potential.” The total weight of the batteries of only 91 kg was also low for electric vehicles. Lead-acid batteries of the same capacity weighed about 907 kg.
The lithium batteries of the car were designed for driving at a steady speed. In the acceleration phase, the nickel-cadmium batteries switched on briefly and brought the AMC Amitron from 0 to 80 kph in 20 s. A recuperation brake system automatically switched the drive motors to generator function when decelerating, so the batteries were recharged — this increased the range to 240 km. This was the first use of a recuperation system in the US.
Later, development programs for clean road traffic in the US have been discontinued. The AMC Amitron never got beyond the prototype stage. Its development was just an attempt to improve the performance and range of electric vehicles. He had a fully electronic CPU to control efficient energy recovery. Its design features included seats with air cushions instead of PU foam pads. The Amitron was designed to minimize the power loss due to rolling resistance, aerodynamic drag and vehicle weight.
American Motors’ original plans were to offer the Amitron after five years of commuting and people shopping in the city. The Amitron was also well-received by the public, but it never came to a series production. The high price of the batteries kept AMC from conducting further experiments with electric vehicles for several years. Anyway, in 1977 AMC developed a similar electric car called the Electron.