Liberty Electric Cars, producer of the world’s first high-performance purely electric 4x4, is planning to employ another 30 people, at its head office on the Oxford Business Park during the next year — to add to the five already working there.

Chief executive and founder, American serial entrepreneur Barry Shrier, who lives in Abingdon, said: “This is a truly exciting time for us. The dawn of a new industry. We see electric cars taking over in the future as surely as the piston-driven car took over from the horse.

“And Britain, particularly, Oxfordshire is at the forefront once again — as so often with emerging technologies in the past.”

He added that the 30 staff needed in Oxford would complement another 250 the firm is seeking in the North East, where the firm is establishing its production plant.

The first jobs on offer in Oxford will be for administration, financial and sales people, but in the longer run jobs in research and development for electrical and mechanical engineers with expertise in energy storage will also come on stream.

The company is in the business of adapting existing cars to battery power. Already it has produced the first electric Range Rover. That is to say, it has fitted its electric power-train to a Range Rover body — though the enterprise has nothing to do with the company building conventional Range Rovers.

It has sold two such electric vehicles to the British Government and has another two prototypes up and running.

Liberty Electric Cars, reporting on vehicle tests which took place in June this year in Newcastle and Sunderland, said: “The result is proof that the company has created a large luxury vehicle that is 100 per cent zero emission yet performs as well — and in some cases even better — than any combustion engine equivalent available on the market today.”

Mr Shrier said: “Our aim from here is to become the global leader in providing advanced zero emission electric power-train technology and produce the most reliable, safe, easy to charge, cost-effective, high performance electric vehicles available.”

And he added that the electric Range Rover will be available to buy — at £160,000 — before Christmas this year. Already Mr Shrier says the company has received more than 50 “expressions of interest” from potential purchasers.

Some say the electric Range Rover will have limited use because of its limited range. But Mr Shrier said: “It can travel 200 miles between charges. And its battery can be charged in one to three hours from a suitably quick charge point.”

Such suitable charge points include Plug In Places (PIPs) now being installed as infrastructure throughout the UK, or at what Mr Shrier describes as “another world-first for Liberty” — wireless parking, where the car is simply parked over an induction plate and then charges itself.

He added the business has so far seen in excess of £10m investment, much coming from private British and continental European investors — including a £2.5m sponsorship deal with the Government’s Technology Sponsorship Board..

Mr Shrier said: “We were courted by Barcelona, but after negotiations with Lord Mandelson, we set up in Newcastle which is specifically promoting itself as a centre of excellence for the electric car industry.”

The company, which also has an office in Chicago employing five people, is keen to promote itself as an international entity but at the same time to maintain its head office in Oxford.

Mr Shrier said: “There is so much research going on here, at both universities, and of course in the motor racing industry too.”

Now the company is seeking to raise another £30m.

Mr Shrier said: “We are hopeful about that. The Californian electric car company Tesla raised more than $100m recently and it hasn’t got a product up and running yet.”

He added that raising the initial money was the hardest part of the project so far, confirming the view among entrepreneurs everywhere that it is comparatively easy to raise money when a project is up and going — but hard for start-ups and very early stage businesses.

When Liberty Electric Cars was formed two years ago there were few large competitors, but now Mr Shrier reckons he is about three years ahead of the competition in terms of technology development — including major car companies such as BMW .

He said that the prototype electric Mini differed from the Liberty car constructed on the Range Rover platform in that whereas the entire back seat of the Mini was taken up with batteries, the Liberty Range Rover still had exactly the same seat configuration as a normal Range Rover.

The induction plate which Liberty can install in owners’ garages for about £5,000 enables the lithium polymer battery pack to charge up without the need for wires or plugs.

Liberty also plans to bring out a hybrid petrol-electric vehicle using the Range Rover platform in the near future. It will have a range of 600 miles.

Now Liberty is planning to produce more cars based on different platforms, and Mr Shrier reckons that thanks to economies of scale, prices will decrease in time to just ten per cent more than standard piston-driven models.

In the meantime, the Liberty Range Rover’s four motors (one per wheel) can accelerate from 0-60 in under seven seconds and propel the luxury car to a top speed of 85 mph.

And the battery charges whenever the vehicle is braking.

The company says it has developed car batteries larger yet lighter than any before, with a lifespan of more than 13 years or 300,000 miles.

Mr Shrier stressed that Liberty Electric Cars is not related to, or endorsed by, Range Rover.

He added: “We are incredibly proud to have proven our critics wrong and demonstrated the performance ability of our proprietary and patented, class-leading technology.”