The plain white van you see here is the subject of our second edition of Abandoned History. Though it was produced and sold domestically as eStar by Navistar, it was actually developed in England years prior. In fact, the story of this electric van begins with the traditional black London taxi.
Since the early Seventies, the London taxi was produced by London Taxis International (or LTI), formerly a coachbuilding firm called Carbodies established in 1919. Carbodies was purchased by Manganese Bronze Holdings (MBH) in 1973. MBH was founded in 1899 to produce ship propellers, but the company gradually made its way into the manufacture of alloys, motorcycle parts, and then finally cars as parent to LTI.
Fast forward to 2002, and MBH sought to expand its business a bit with a great new idea: An EV cargo van! The project was dubbed eMercury and was led by LTI employee Jevon Thorpe. Thorpe played a major part in the design of LTI’s TX1 taxi, the then-contemporary black London cab in production since 1997. MBH got the British government interested in its new van idea and received some nice funding from the Department of Trade and Industry.
Thorpe and team set to work and debuted three different eMercury prototypes in 2004. Each prototype used a different type of battery: One was molten salt, the other a hybrid with a nickel-metal hydride battery, and a third used a lead-acid battery. However, by the time the prototypes were ready, MBH had a change of fortunes and heart. In 2003...
Read Full Story: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2021/09/abandoned-history-the-navistar-estar-a-very-troubled-electric-van/
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