Foam cars go on sale
The hyper-economical Spira4u has begun pilot production in China
THE 2008 Automotive XPrize finalist Spira4u has begun pilot production in China of both an electric and a gaspowered version of its distinctive and hyper-economical three-wheeler.
The car-scooter three-wheeler has finished emission testing to meet U.S. EPA requirements and approval is expected soon.
The petrol version weighs only about 200 kg and electric version less than 240 kg. Both versions share the same honeycomb composite chassis and a body made of fiberglass covered by recyclable lightweight foam body panels.
The shock absorption qualities of the EPP foam make the trike much safer in an accident and the foam panels also absorb parking lot dings.
The $5 000 (R57 500) petrol has a fuel-injected, 150 cc Chinese Wangye motorcycle engine with automatic transmission that gives the vehicle a top speed of 85 km/h and economy of 2,94 l/100 km, delivering a 320 km range from the 9,5-litre tank.
The $9 000 electric version uses either one or two 10 kW (13,4 hp) motors with the additional motor fitted to the other rear wheel at an additional cost of $1 500. With one motor fitted, the vehicle has a top speed of 100 km/h. Two motors smoke the wheels. “We’ve modified the programming of the controller so that it doesn’t spin up the wheels from standstill,” says Spira4u’s Lon Ballard, “but everything can be changed and we’re also happy to share the controller program with the buyers so that they can tweak it to their liking.”
The electric Spira4u plugs into any normal household 15 amp 110 v or 220 v power point and fully charges in two to four hours. The small battery packs are removable and can also be taken into a building for recharging.
The Spira4u is light enough for a person to lift the front and a special pad at the rear allows the trike to be parked upright. “We’ve found that we can fit eight Spira4us in a single parking spot by parking them that way,” says Ballard.
The Spira4u will be shown at the NAIAS show in Detroit next week, where Ballard is hoping to find potential dealers in the United States and manufacturing licensees around the world.
Spira is seeking rapid promotion of the design globally with a very low royalty fee of one to two percent only on componentry designed by Spira.
“We are seeking manufacturers to expand production globally using local components incorporated into new light, safe vehicles meeting local design and production requirements,” he said.
Six 10 kW electric and six fuel-injected 150 cc Spira4us being prepared for shipping.
The Spira4You is light enough to lift and eight of these trikes fit into a standard parking bay.
Apart from absorbing a crash better than metal, the foam panels also floats.