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USA: He’s a driving force in the world of electric cars

The gig: He doesn’t make the cars of the future; he makes the cars of the future go. As chief executive of AC Propulsion Inc., Tom Gage advances the technologies under the hoods of electric transportation. The high-tech batteries and drive systems made by the San Dimas company power a growing number of electric vehicles. Those include a test fleet of BMW’s electric Minis, which are currently whooshing — silently — over roads in California, New York and New Jersey.

From the pits to this: A self-described “car nut” since childhood, Gage moved to Georgia to work as a race mechanic after graduating from Stanford University with an engineering degree. After a few years tinkering with turbos and emissions systems, he wiped off the grease, got an MBA and landed a job at Chrysler. There he got his first jolt of electric transportation, working on a program to develop plug-in passenger vehicles. That effort sputtered, and Gage ultimately left Detroit for California to consult on advanced vehicle technologies.

In 1994, he met Alan Cocconi, who had put an electric drivetrain into an old Honda Civic. Driving it, Gage said, “was a life-changing experience for me.” Soon after, he “started hanging out at AC Propulsion,” Cocconi’s company, and worked his way up the ladder.



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