It is not every day that an all-electric car breaks 300 mph.
This year’s New York International Auto Show is underway, and amid the high performance roadsters and SUVs are a few ideas trying to shake up the status quo in cars. Typically the big automakers at such events talk up the ways their cars can connect to the Web and serve as mobile devices in their own way. But there were also examples of innovation at the auto show that went beyond streaming music from Pandora. (see slideshow)
That even included a car that had set land speed records for electric vehicles.
That bit of transcontinental innovation came from France’s Venturi Automobiles, which built the all-electric speed demon in conjunction with Ohio State University.
Shaped like a missile, the Venturi Buckeye Bullet has achieved speeds in excess of 300 mph with hopes of reaching 400 mph in the future. On top of setting world speed records for electric cars, the VBB lets the company test electric powertrains for research and development.
Venturi makes other cars that run on electricity, including the all terrain buggy called the America, the Fetish sports roadster, and the Eclectic, which can be powered by solar panels on its roof as well as a portable wind turbine when parked.
The press preview days, held late last week, gave the media a chance to roam the auto show in advance of the public. Paul Elio, CEO of Elio Motors, put his company’s three-wheel vehicle under the spotlight. The Elio is being pushed as an alternative, low-cost means of transport that fits just two people seated in tandem. The vehicle, which he said is classified by regulators as a motorcycle because of its design, is priced at $6,800 and promises fuel efficiency up to 84 mpg. “By sitting front-to-back instead of side-by-side we double our mileage,” he said.
The company is striving to offer choices in transportation Elio said, but without trying to encroach on mainstream carmakers. Given its cost and listed fuel efficiency, the vehicle might be used for basic commuting while a larger vehicle gets tapped for family road trips. The advanced orders for the Elio vehicle, he said, were a sign of the company’s potential. “We have done a crowdfunding campaign for about two years, he said. “We’ve taken 41,000 reservations.”
One of upstarts at the auto show was not immediately ready to show his cards to the press. The team at Lyons Motor Car, headquartered in Harlem, was still finishing work on their prototype LM2 Streamliner before rolling it out to the real world. The reportedly 1,700 horsepower “hypercar” did not make it to the press preview days though, but apparently rolled out for the public showings, which began Sunday.
CEO Kevin W. Lyons said during his press conference that the LM2 Streamliner can reach 60 mph in just over 2 seconds. But the design and concept, not just the car’s expected speed, has raised some eyebrows. “The biggest controversy over the last couple months has been about wireless technology,” Lyons said.
There were misconceptions in the news media, he said, about the Streamliner that had cast doubt on his ambitious plans. “It’s not pie in the sky,” Lyons said. The plan for this Harlem-based company is to build cars four at a time as ordered.
Concept art that was previously released raised questions though, such as where the ventilation is (Lyons said it was streamlined to be hidden) and what kind of technology served as the backbone for the Streamliner. The car uses a device from InfinityBox, Lyons said, to manage all of its electrical components. “It’s a programmable system which you can control any aspect of your car from your iPhone,” he said.
The car also has capacitive touch sensors similar to a tablet or smartphone, Lyons said, eliminating the need for traditional buttons. “That could be put on any system in the car,” he said.
There were some novel ideas from bigger auto makers. Toyota presented the Mirai, due late this year, a hydrogen fuel cell–powered car. The company also brought out concept vehicles, the i-Road and the FV2, which offered distinct takes on what the future might hold for vehicles.