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San Dimas firm helped Swiss firm win X Prize

Tom Gage and the E-Tracer
Tom Gage and the E-Tracer
Kitty Felde/KPCC

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The Swiss builders of a high-speed, high-tech electric vehicle today pocketed a $2.5 million share of the X Prize. That’s the annual award given to innovative “green” vehicle design. The Swiss entry got a charge from a San Dimas company that makes high-tech batteries.

The X Prize winner in the “alternative tandem” class is the E-Tracer – an odd little bubble vehicle designed by a former SwissAir pilot. The two-seater looks like a bumblebee motorcycle.

The electric-powered E-Tracer also gets the energy equivalent of 187 miles to the gallon thanks to a drive system built by AC Propulsion. The San Dimas firm wants to work out a deal with the Swiss designer to build 100 E-Tracers to sell in the U.S. next year.

AC Propulsion boss Tom Gage says if you sell E-Tracers in California, you should build ‘em there. "We see this as a perfect car for California," he says, "opinion leaders and early adopters and the people that just want something that’s totally unique. And the weather in California, just the entrepreneurial spirit, there’s gotta be a hundred people in California who want to buy this thing."

AC Propulsion’s Tom Gage says talks to bring E-Tracer production to San Dimas continued late into the night – but he says the beer got in the way.