If they got the price of this thing down, to say 4-5k, and maybe its top speed up a bit, it could be pretty ideal for short journeys/city driving. Perhaps I'm dillusional, but its interesting all the same.
Just basically a motorcycle but with a controllable internal environment... Think i'd hang onto the coupe for long distance tho!
Clever Car belongs to a class of motorized vehicles known as 'tilting three wheelers' (TTWs), which have been around since 1945. They have what I call 1.5-seats, consisting of a driver's seat and a cargo space behind that doubles as a passenger seat for short trips. The passenger sits with legs on either side of the driver. This type of vehicle outperforms all others in terms of cost, handling, fuel economy, all-weather driving, speed, acceleration, etc.
The Clever Car:
Vehicle cost = 6300 GBP.
Fuel economy = 2.5 Liters per 100 km (111 mpg)
Fill up the tank once every 3 weeks, instead of every 3 days.
Will seat two (one comfortably).
Leans into corners. Snappier cornering than most sports cars.
Same height and visibility as other small cars.
Crash tested, just as safe as other small cars.
Range = 200 km (120 miles)
Top speed = 60 mph
It's fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG) and as such can be refueled at home. Fuelmaker Corporation sells an appliance that can refuel CNG cars such as the Clever Car, Honda Civic GX, forklifts, fleet vehicles, etc. by drawing gas from your gas line just like the furnace, or barbeque.
A lightweight plastic fuel tank with ethanol, gasoline or diesel fuel would probably shave off another few hundred pounds of dead weight and increase speed, fuel economy & range. Overall a very promising design, and definitely not ugly.
Because vehicle weight affects both the kinetic energy and the rolling friction directly, one can expect the fuel economy to vary inversely with vehicle weight. For example, if weight drops by half, fuel economy should approximately double, assuming the vehicle has an engine that provides roughly the same power-to-weight ratio. Comparisons can be drawn between different weight classes of vehicles, such as a Chrysler Sebring, Hyundai Accent, a Honda Insight hybrid, and the Clever Car:
vehicle weight = 1422 kg
fuel economy = 29 mpg
vehicle weight = 1024 kg
fuel economy = 40 mpg
Honda Insight Hybrid
vehicle weight = 856 kg
fuel economy = 60 mpg
vehicle weight = 400 kg
fuel economy = 111 mpg
The Hyundai Accent is 39 percent lighter, and gets 38 percent better fuel economy. The Clever Car is 3.6-times lighter, and gets 3.8-times better fuel economy.
An unexpected result is found with the Hybrid Honda Insight: it is 66 percent lighter than the Chrysler Sebring, so one would expect it to get approx. 48 mpg fuel economy. But in fact it gets 60 mpg, roughly an additional 12 mpg due to improved engine efficiency. More than half of this improvement is due to weight reduction!
The Hybrid Honda Insight is also 20 percent lighter than the Hyundai Accent, so once again we should expect it to achieve 48 mpg fuel economy. But as shown it gets another 12 mpg on top of that. In this case 8 mpg improvement is due to weight reduction, and 12 mpg improvement due to higher engine efficiency.
These are approximations, but the basic lesson is still there. It is easier to reduce vehicle weight than to increase engine efficiency. A simple way of reducing vehicle weight is to simply shrink the vehicle. To build a 1-seat vehicle instead of 4-seats should reduce weight by 75 percent, or nearly so. This can be done without expensive engine technologies or special lightweight materials.
It has been estimated that as much as 30 percent of our current oil consumption could be displaced by biomass-produced ethanol. So to achieve full renewability in the transportation sector might require us to reduce the average fuel consumption of vehicles on the road by 70 percent. As shown above, the easiest, least expensive way to achieve this is to reduce vehicle weight by the same amount. Making 1.5-seat Tilting Three Wheelers the standard would be a huge leap toward achieving this goal.