Manitoba’s Kor Ecologic debuts hybrid Urbee
Hybrid runs solely on renewable energy or gets over 200 mpg at highway speeds.
In the tradition of the Zenn electric vehicle from Toronto’s Zenn Motors, the T-Rex from Montreal’s Campagna Motors and the Kestrel from Edmonton-based Motive Industries and the eVaro from B.C.’s Future Vehicle Technologies, Calgary-based Kor Ecologic unveiled the Urbee, a two-door hybrid electric/ethanol prototype that gets more than 200 mpg highway and 100 mpg city, at the SEMA Auto Show in Las Vegas. At a combined highway/city fuel efficiency of 150 mpg, the vehicle’s fuel cost is approximately 2 cents per mile, one third that of a Toyota Prius and only a fraction of the cost of an SUV. The project is one of the 30 elite vehicles selected for this year’s Progressive Auto X-Prize competition.
With a fairly standard hollow tube roll-cage frame, the small two passenger vehicle is unique both its aerodynamic qualities and body construction material. According to 3D prototyping equipment company, Stratasys, the Urbee is the first car to have its entire body 3D printed by additive manufacturing processes. All exterior components – including the glass panel prototypes – were created using Dimension 3D Printers and Fortus 3D Production Systems at Stratasys’ digital manufacturing service – RedEye on Demand.
“Urbee is the only practical car we’re aware of that can run solely on renewable energy,” says Kor. “Our goal in designing it was to be as ‘green’ as possible throughout the design and manufacturing processes. FDM technology from Stratasys has been central to meeting that objective. FDM lets us eliminate tooling, machining, and handwork, and it brings incredible efficiency when a design change is needed. If you can get to a pilot run without any tooling, you have advantages.”
In addition to its build materials, the Urbee maximizes its aerodynamics to reduce drag. For example, the roof of Urbee is only 40 inches off the ground and places occupants as close as possible to present a streamlined cross-sectional profile. In addition, the three-wheel vehicle uses high pressure motorcycle tires for its front tires to reduce rolling resistance.
The Urbee is the love child of Kor Ecologic and small group of design engineers who have been developing the vehicle for the past 10 years. Althought the project has received funding from the Vehicle Technology Center (VTC) and the Manitoba Conservation Innovation Fund as well as donations from local and North American suppliers and manufacturers, the Urbee has been largely self-funded. To date, the team says it has invested approximately $750,000 into the first prototype. The team’s hope is that it will receive enough future funding to produce 10 Urbees for thorough road and safety testing in prep for future mass production.