Thursday

The Chevy Volt pales next to the Canadian Urbee hybrid


Chevrolet has gotten some good press over its Volt "near hybrid" that is coming out soon, but it promises to be left in the mpg dust by other contenders who set their sights higher. Take the Canadian Urbee.

The electric-gas hybrid from Kor Ecologic is aiming at 200 mpg highway and 100 mpg city driving. That's an achievement.

In addition to its startling good looks, it will cost ten times less to drive an Urbee than it will your average SUV and seats two. One production key will be its ability to store (and then use) the amount of solar and wind energy collectible on a one car garage in one day. You might never actually dip into the gas fuel tank. Oh, and it can run on ethanol too.

The futuristic car just finished its display at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas and is running in the 2010 X Prize Competition, which promises a big cash prize to the first production-capable car to prove it can get 100 mpg.

A fascinating aspect will be the body construction, which plans to be a "3-D" printing process where the body components are printed via layers of material on top of each other until the finished part appears. The process is already being used by Boeing for some airplane parts, but the Urbee makers intend to make the whole body this way. Such innovation at the absolute edge of the envelop sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, so we'll have to wait and see.

But for looks, it's certainly remarkable. Like the Aptera, there just isn't anything like it. I'd take either one of them for a drive today, if I could only find one on the road or at a dealership. So far, that continues to be the problem.

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