A Manitoba company is out to prove that the province could be at the forefront of the automobile manufacturing industry of the future.
The Winnipeg entrepreneurs behind the wild-looking Urbee say it's not such wild idea — and they're out prove it next week in Las Vegas at the international auto show, SEMA.
Urbee's designers are looking for investors and to keep momentum going for its vehicle, which attained a Top 30 finish in the 2009 international X-Prize Auto competition.
Urbee’s development is part of a growing trend of so-called boutique start-up car companies building next-generation, ultra-energy efficient cars.
Montreal-based Campagna motors is building the T-Rex, a slick, three-wheeled roadster, and Zenn Motor Company, in North York, Ont., is making the Zenn.
Jim Kor, president of Kor EcoLogic Inc., which designed the Urbee, said he wanted to de-construct the concept of what is a car by asking: "How do we get a person from point A to point B, with the least amount of energy possible?"
Currently, the carmaker claims the Urbee gets a fuel economy of 2 cents per mile, or about 60 cents a day. The car runs mostly on electric for most commuting needs, but a gas engine kicks in at higher speeds.
The key to its fuel economy, Kor said, is to reduce the weight and air resistance as much as possible, with a light-weight highly aerodynamic vehicle.
"Most people don't know it, but we are actually moving under an ocean of air. And there are no square fish in the ocean."
The plan is complete the prototype of the three-wheel, two-door Urbee by spring, then work on hand-building ten "pilot cars." The hope is those cars will be mass produced in Manitoba, Kor said, adding, it’s not so outlandish an idea.
Buses and tractors are already made in this province, so "why not cars?" he said.
The CBC's Mychaylo Prystupa reports: