The mission of the 3D printer designed URBEE car is to “show the world that using as little energy as possible is a practical and viable alternative, compared to always looking for more and more energy.” The car could use only 10 gallons of biofuel to drive across the United States mostly on I-80W for 2,905 miles in about 42 hours of driving time averaging 69 miles per hour (according to Google Maps) from New York City to San Francisco, CA.
A main attribute of the vehicle is its most aerodynamic shape possible, like a falling drop of water. The tail truncates into the vertical rear with a coefficient of drag at an unprecedented 0.15, compared to 0.26 for a Mercedes-Benz B-Class with eco package. Powered by two small electric motors and a seven horse power ethanol engine, it can reach speeds of about 70 miles (110 kilometers) per hour, its batteries can be recharged with a solar panel kit mounted on a garage roof, and it has a rear wheel steering mechanism.
The original Urbee was a show car, but the URBEE-2 will be reliable and affordable. Its name comes from the acronym for URBan Electric vehicle with Ethanol as back-up. It may be classified as a motorcycle with its 3-wheel architecture, low weight and under-sized engine, depending on the country and local regulations. It will “meet or exceed all safety and emissions regulations for both motorcycles and cars,” but will need to undergo millions of dollars worth of safety testing.
The process of making production parts using 3D printers is called “digital manufacturing”. Production costs of the Urbee would be cut mainly because the 50 parts making up the car body could be made on-site with 3D printers. Designer Kor EcoLogic, an engineering consultancy located in Winnipeg, Canada, has invested over ten years in refining the design. The car’s price could range somewhere between $16,000 and $50,000.
The URBEE-2 is not in production yet. The company has relied on self-funding, in-kind support from sponsors, Canadian Government support, and donations from around the world. In 2013, it only raised $6,974 CAD of its $30,000 goal on Kickstarter. Green investment venture capitalists in sustainable technologies, especially experienced in funding significant Research and Development, are invited to submit email contacts.
The International Energy Agency says by 2050 the climate would make the world uninhabitable unless 2/3 of all known fossil fuel reserves remain in the ground. In 2015, there are about a billion cars in the world; with rising wealth and population the number is expected to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050. These new cars must be designed to run on renewable energy.
View the website for more details on the car’s design and like it on Facebook to follow its development. Jim Kor’s book “Driving for Our Lives a road trip through the Ecosphere” about the struggle against all odds to build the world’s greenest car does not seem to be in print yet. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.