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The Amitron was an American electric concept car built in 1967 by American Motors Corporation (AMC) and Gulton Industries of Metuchen, New Jersey.


During the December 1967 public introduction of the snub-snouted three-passenger urban area vehicle or city car, Roy D. Chapin Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMC, stated that the Amitron "could eliminate many problems that up to this point have made electric-type cars impractical". [1] A piggyback system of two 25-lb (11 kg) nickel-cadmium batteries and two 75-lb (34 kg) lithium batteries developed by Gulton were designed to power the car for 150 miles (240 km) when traveling at 50 mph (80 km/h). This was a big step beyond contemporary lead-acid electric vehicles because of their limited range on each battery charge.

"... The established internal combustion engine vehicle manufacturers in the late 1960s did not produce much in the way of electric vehicles. Most could have been easily replicated by any individual, and resembled souped-up golf carts (although the Amitron was in a class by itself—it featured Gulton’s lithium batteries, a solid state controller, 50-mph speed, and a 150-mile range). ..."[2]

The car's lithium batteries were designed for sustained speeds. During acceleration, the nickel-cadmium batteries would cut in briefly to boost the Amitron from a standstill to 50 mph (80 km/h) in 20 seconds.[3] An Energy Regeneration Brake system would automatically switch the drive motors to generators as the car slowed so that the batteries could recharge; thus increasing the range of the car. The first road tests of the power plant were in 1968 using a Rambler American sedan. At the time, American Motors Vice President of Design, Richard A. Teague, was working on a car called "the Voltswagon".[1]

The Amitron did not go beyond the prototype stage. Its development was significant for the emphasis on various methods to improve performance and range. It had a solid-state electronic CPU to efficiently use power and on-the-road regeneration. Among its unique automobile design features were passenger seats that had air filled cushions, rather than conventional polyurethane (foam rubber). The Amitron was designed to minimize power loss by keeping down rolling resistance, wind drag resistance, and vehicle weight.[4]

In 1977, AMC developed a very similar electric vehicle called the Electron.


  • Mitch Frumkin and Phil Hall (2002). American Dream Cars: 60 Years of the Best Concept Vehicles. Krause Publications. ISBN 0-873494-91-1. 
  • Sheldon R. Shacket (1979). The Complete Book of Electric Vehicles. Domus Books. ISBN 0-89196-019-8. 


  1. 1.0 1.1 Time Magazine, Business Section, Next: the Voltswagon?, December 22, 1967.
  2. Brant, Bob. (1993). Build Your Own Electric Vehicle. McGraw-Hill Professional. Page 63. ISBN 0-830-64231-5.
  3. Time Magazine, Business Section, Next: the Voltswagon?, December 22, 1967.
  4. Firor, John W. (1970). Urban Demands on Natural Resources. University of Denver Press. page 2.

See also