Lightweight, hyper-economical cars are usually expensive one-offs, or just slightly lighter and less thirsty versions of common production vehicles. But the so-called hypercar concept, studied by the Rocky Mountain Institute and Lotus, is different. It claims to have serious potential to go into mass production – although the bodyshell is designed to be built of advanced composites.
The man behind the project, Amory Lovins, believes textile industry technology (for fast handling of carbon fibre weaves in large volumes) could be married with the best of Formula One design to create a cheap, automated body panel production line.
He may be right. But that could be the least of his problems. The most careful motorists prang their cars, and repairs in steel are pricey enough. Carbon fibre is harder to repair and can suffer structural damage in an impact without it being visible, potentially leaving hidden weaknesses in a car body. So whatever the elegance of Mr Lovins’ technical and manufacturing solutions, one question remains: `Would you buy a used car from this man?’