Last week, battery maker and low-speed electric carmaker Electrovaya said it would be launching the Maya-300 car with help from ExxonMobil's lithium-ion battery technology (see The Maya 300: An Exxon-Assisted Electric Car).

This week, the two announced a test venue for the car – a car-share and rental program in Baltimore known as Altcar. The relatively small pilot project will give visitors to Baltimore's Maryland Science Center a chance to test-drive a handful of the vehicles, which are set to hit the market in 2011.

Toronto-based Electrovaya has been talking about the car for the past year or so (see Electrovaya Gears Up for Maya-300). For $20,000 to $25,000, the Maya 300 will charge in about eight to 10 hours, run for 60 miles and plug into regular 110-volt outlets. An extended-range battery option will run for 120 miles on a charge and cost $30,000 to $35,000.

It will also have a top speed of 35 miles per hour – a fact that places it in the category of so-called "city" or "neighborhood" cars meant mainly for urban commutes or for use on campuses or in corporate fleets. Other low-speed vehicle makers include Miles Electric Vehicles and Zenn Motor Co.

But Maya is planning to introduce a car that can go at highway-legal speeds in the future, Sankar Das Gupta, president of Electrovaya, said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters, though he wouldn't set a date for that to happen.

How these might compete against mid-priced, highway-speed electric vehicles being introduced by the likes of Japan's Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, China's BYD, India's Reva and others remains to be seen.

At first, the low-speed Maya is aimed at private and public fleet markets, not the broader consumer market.

Miles also wants to bring a highway-legal version of its vehicle to market by early next year, with a target price of $45,000 (see Miles Electric to Show Off Its All-Electric Sedan June 3).

ExxonMobil's contribution to the Maya is its "SuperPolymer" separator film for Electrovaya's battery. The oil giant has put about $500,000 into the car-sharing program.

ExxonMobil is working on providing the separator film for other customers, ExxonMobil Chemical Co. chief polymer scientist Pat Brant said Wednesday, though he wouldn't provide further details.

Electrovaya's main business is batteries. It has worked on a number of electric vehicle projects with partners including Statoil Hydro in the United Kingdom, the Tata Group in India, Miljobil Grenland in Norway and Purolator Courier in Canada.

It's also put its batteries in a prototype electric Hummer developed by FEV along with help from Raser Technologies, which is primarily a geothermal power developer.