|Body and chassis|
|Layout||Rear-motor, rear-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Direct drive (separately for each rear wheel)|
|Battery||11.2 kWh lead-acid|
The Tropica or Tropica Roadster is an all-electric car made by Renaissance Cars in the 1990s. It was introduced for the model year 1995 and built in a limited number of units, but never entered series production due to financial issues.
The Tropica Roadster was designed by Jim Muir.
The car was to use an ABS body on an aluminum backbone chassis. Although the first prototype had a fiberglass unibody, later vehicles used an aluminum chassis and a plastic body. The total weight was about 2,200 lb (998 kg) at the prototype stage, with plans to reduce it by a further 400 lb (181 kg) in the production version; the manufacturer ultimately specified the weight of the car as 1,960 lb (889 kg).
The battery capacity was about 11.2 kWh, coming from twelve 6V lead-acid batteries, each with a capacity of 156 Ah; the batteries were removable. When a prototype was tested by the Car and Driver magazine, the urban range was about 38 mi (61 km). Later owners of pre-series vehicles reported a range of about 52 mi (84 km). In 2008, a car with about 20,000 miles on its odometer had a range of 35 mi (56 km) on the freeway.
The vehicle would take 6-8 hours to fully charge, but as explained by one owner, "I can get an 85% charge in about 90 mins. The remaining 6-7 hours is used to trickle charge the rest of the battery."
The vehicle had two DC motors, one for each of the rear wheels, which eliminated the need for a differential. The vehicle had no gearbox. The maximum power output was 49 bhp, however the maximum continuous power output was merely 15 bhp, which resulted in a top speed of about 60 mph (97 km/h). It was 57 mph (92 km/h) in the Car and Driver test, while another user reported 72 mph (116 km/h).
The car was introduced in 1995 (although prospective customers were able to reserve it earlier). Approximately 16 pre-series Tropica Roadsters were produced and exhibited in showrooms, with at least some of them finding customers. According to another source, the company made 23 vehicles overall, including prototypes and pilot series vehicles. The car did not enter series production because the second financing round failed.
In 1996, the company went into receivership and most of its assets went to a newly founded company called Zebra Motors, based first in Novato and then in Alameda, California. The company announced two models, the Model Z Roadster (which was a renamed Tropica Roadster) and the Light Delivery Van (the latter featuring a swappable battery), but these did not enter series production. The company was then bought by a group of investors reportedly including actor Don Johnson and renamed Xebra Motors. Though the group planned a limited production of the Roadster, the company ultimately failed in 2001.
One Tropica Roadster is in possession of the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum in Kingman, Arizona.
- Car and Driver, March 1994. Text by Frank Markus, photography by Bob Costanzo. Available here
- "Tropica. The World's First Affordable Electric Sports Car. Product brochure (2)". www.nogas.org.
- "Tropica Roadster Window Sticker". www.nogas.org.
- "The 1995 Renaissance Tropica Is The Electric Roadster You Didn't Know Existed". HotCars. September 15, 2020.
- "The Answer Page". Archived from the original on 2008-10-18. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
- "Steve Bischoff's Tropica". www.evalbum.com.
- Strouhal, Peter (September 8, 2020). "The 1995 Renaissance Tropica is the car nobody asked about". DriveTribe.
- "The Tropica/Zebra Saga". www.nogas.org.
- "Where are they now???". www.nogas.org.
- "The (now defunct) Renaissance Cars Home Page". www.nogas.org.
- "Don Johnson plugs into electric vehicle maker". San Francisco Business Times. Archived from the original on 2007-04-23. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
- "Auction ends run of electric car maker". East Bay Business Times. Archived from the original on 2006-02-09. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
- "Zebra Model Z Roadster in "Nash Bridges"". IMCDb.org.
- "Acquisitions & Arrivals | Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation". hevf.org.