SIM-LEI concept shows how an electric car should be done

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In wheel motor

A concept electric car, the SIM-LEI, uses in-wheel electric motors to make an electric car as practical as it is fun. Photo Credit: Morio/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

A concept from the Tokyo Motor Show, the SIM-LEI by boutique firm SIM Drive, has some interesting features for an electric car. It could be everything an electric car could really be.

Corvette fast with no gas needed

Electric cars are hampered by a few things. Firstly, the only models fast enough to be exciting to drive, like the Tesla Roadster and the Fisker Karma, are too expensive for most people to afford. Secondly, the cars that are affordable, such as the Nissan Leaf and other upcoming pure plug-in electrics, have such a limited range that it makes them impractical.  Potential customers are also often unaware that if they don’t have savings sufficient enough to make a decent down payment, locking them into a lower overall interest rate, then can easily finance a portion of the car’s total cost through companies such as PersonalMoneyNetwork.

However, a concept car shown off at the Tokyo Motor Show claims to accomplish both speed and range. The SIM-LEI, by SIM Drive, according to CNN, boasts 260 kilowatts of electric power (or about 353.5 horsepower) and a 0 to 60 miles per hour time of about 4.8 seconds, which is about half a second slower than the base Chevrolet Corvette. It’s also rated to go 200 miles on a charge and cost about $32,000.

Motor-in-hub makes the difference

The difference between the SIM-LEI and other electrics is that instead of a single electric motor, it has four. Each motor is mounted in a wheel hub, which also gives the car four-wheel-drive. The name of the car, LEI, stands for Leading Efficiency In-wheel motor, according to the company’s website. Other concepts have toyed with the idea, such as Peugeot and Mitsubishi, according to CNN.

Jaguar, according to CNET, also used in-wheel electric motors in the C-X75 hybrid concept car that debuted in 2010. The C-X75 was impressive; a 195-horsepower motor powered each wheel, producing a total of 780 horsepower and a 0 to 60 miles per hour time of 3.4 seconds. Two gas-powered micro-turbines in the Jag acted as generators, similar to the Chevy Volt, when the batteries ran out after 68 miles. The total range with the 15.8 gallon tank was 560 miles, giving the Jag fuel efficiency of 31 miles per gallon.

Production not yet scheduled

Whether the SIM-LEI makes it into production and then to the United States is still to be determined. The company began as a startup out of Keio University, according to TechCrunch, and produced the LEI concept in conjunction with 34 businesses and municipalities after producing the Ellica concept car several years ago.

However, it did go through testing under typical Japanese traffic conditions and still achieved a range of 333 kilometers (about 207 miles) with its 24.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, which was sourced from Toshiba, according to Engadget. That’s the same size battery used in the Nissan Leaf.

The company states on its website that it will be in production by 2013 and, according to CNN, that the number of buyers will be a factor in cost; the more people buy one, the less it will cost.

Sources

CNN

SIM-Drive

CNET

TechCrunch

Engadget

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