As it turns out, Sam's Club isn't exactly a stranger to the electric car business. In 2007, the membership-only warehouse club teamed up with Hybrid Technologies, an auto engineering company which is now under the name EV Innovations, Inc., for a unique offer. Hybrid Technologies gained recognition by retrofitting conventional gasoline-powered cars like the MINI Cooper, the Chrysler Crossfire, the PT Cruiser and the smart fortwo into electric vehicles (EVs). EV Innovations, Inc. is a startup company, just like any other. However, the main difference in its approach is that instead of designing completely new electric cars, it has put all its efforts into converting already existing conventional models into electric ones.
The somewhat offbeat offer the two companies (Sam's Club and Hybrid Technologies) pitched to Sam's Club members was a "Once-in-a-lifetime" package: a 2007 Hybrid Technologies' lithium-ion-powered smart car. There was also an unlikely third party involved -- as if this scenario couldn't get any more unlikely: The electric car also featured "cutting-edge technology from NASA," and the package included a trip to the Kennedy Space Center for a viewing of a shuttle launch. The connection? Hybrid Technologies originally designed the lithium-ion-powered smart car for the Kennedy Space Center.
More recently, Sam's Club and Hybrid Technologies have presented card-holding members with another chance for an electric sports car. In November of 2008, customers were informed of yet another "once-in-a-lifetime" event -- this time the promo offered an all-new electric sports car designed by Hybrid Technologies, not just a retrofit. Although not much information about the car was released, the offer promised a 200-mile (321.9-kilometer) range, a 0 to 60-mile per hour (0 to 96.6-kilometer per hour) time of five seconds and a top speed of 150 miles per hour (241.4 kilometers per hour), making it much sportier than your typical electric car.
So what was necessary to own this car? Well, a Sam's Club membership, for starters -- but you'd also need $100,000. The first member to log onto the Sam's Club Web site on Nov. 12, 2008, could buy the car, and within 12 hours there was actually a taker. On top of the electric car, the owner also received round-trip airfare to Los Angeles to personally see the first production car driven off the assembly line, training at a local race track and shipping to get the car home.
For lots more information about electric cars, hybrid cars and fuel-efficient technology, follow the links on the next page.