At left a Messerschmitt Kabinenroller circa 1956, photo Stefan Kühn; at right, Vehiconomics' Smite via Ny Teknik.
Tomorrow new Swedish car company Vehiconomics will unveil a lightweight, three-wheeled economical vehicle the company hopes will begin to be seen in the streets of Swedish cities already in summer 2009. The first out, three-wheeled two-seater Smite, as it is currently called, weighs just 130 kilos (286 lbs.) and will cost under 50,000 Swedish crowns ($5,500), says Ny Teknik. It will debut in gas, ethanol, and all-electric versions, and is reported to have a top speed of 90 kilometers per hour - the clear opposite of that other famous Swedish vehicle, the Volvo.
Another view of Smite via Ny Teknik.
Looks like a Messerschmitt, or a toy from Cars
Back at the end of WWII, very small, economical automobiles became popular in Europe for a time, many of them three wheelers and able to be licensed as motorcycles. They typically had aircraft-style bubble canopies, giving rise to the term "bubble" cars. Many of them were manufactured in Germany and the UK, and their design was in response to the desire for personal transport and high fuel costs. Sound familiar?
Personal transport, high mileage, low price
Vehiconomics believes the large, heavy car era is over for urban transport. The Smite is built from extremely lightweight composite materials, and will draw about 1/5th of a liter of fuel for each 10 kilometers of travel (gas engine version). Smite will be just under 3 meters long, and according to its designers will be available in versions classed for up to 45 kilometers per hour as well as up to 90 kilometers per hour. Most small cars, the designers note, still weigh more than a ton and are constructed of aluminum.
But will it sell?
The Messerschmitt and other bubble cars were gradually overtaken by larger and larger cars during the oil-abundant era of cheap gas. Vehiconomics says it is targeting the Smite and other models toward those who want "safe city commuting." While the NY Teknik article on Smite generated lots of comment, skeptics noted that you might not want to meet a moose on a dark Swedish road driving the lightweight Smite. If Aptera can make thethree-wheeled 2e go and Zap can tout the Reservation, why not a low-cost Smite? Via: Ny Teknik
More on electric cars, three-wheelers
Aptera Pushes Back Vehicle Production to October 2009
Zapping Gas Prices With a Three-Wheeled Electric Vehicle
Electric Car Revolution Only Three Years Away (Maybe)