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Due in large part to the oil crisis of 1973, many startup American car companies were developing and producing electric cars in small numbers into the early 1980s. The Omega Electric Car Company of Huntington Beach, California, was one of these companies. They began building electric golf carts and utility vehicles in 1961. The Omega Alpha city car was introduced in 1980, along with stablemates the Brio (a GT hatchback), the TriStar (a three-wheeled utility car), and an exotic-looking “sports” car, the Thor.
The Alpha plugged into a standard 110 volt outlet to charge the eight 6-volt batteries, taking around 9 hours to fully charge. The driving range was advertised as 30 to 40 miles; at the time, driving costs were about 2 cents per mile. It had a reported top speed of 45 mph. The Alpha’s standard features included a collapsible steering system, fiberglass body, drum brakes all around, and tuned suspension. The only real option besides paint color was a choice of vinyl or crushed velour seats (note the stitched-in Omega company logo on the seat bottoms). The CEO of Omega, Robert Jordan, stated in a press release that
“It’s nearly impossible to get stranded in an electric car…when you run out of battery power, all you do is wait. In less than an hour, enough power builds back up to get you to a telephone booth or electric outlet.”
While technically accurate (batteries can regain some energy after total loss), it was a wildly optimistic claim for an electric car of this era.
By mid-1980, gas prices had lowered and demand dropped. Although auto companies were beginning to talk about developing electric battery technology, most people were reluctant to change their driving habits, and electric cars faded away yet again. The Alpha was perhaps a few decades ahead of its time.
Manufacturer: Omega Motors, Inc.
Country of Origin: U.S.
Drivetrain Configuration: Direct Gear Drive
Motor: 6 hp, 125 amp, General Electric D.C. motor
Range: 40-60 miles on full charge
Top Speed: 45 miles per hour
Years of Production: 1980
Number Produced: unknown
Original Cost: Approx. $3,000