The main focus of this project is to conserve energy by creating a means of personal transportation that minimizes energy required for mobility. We do that by using ques from nature in designing it's shape... the teardrop. The teardrop shape with all its streamlining effects has been known to be very low drag and aerodynamic for over ninety years. One of the pioneers who researched and experimented with automotive aerodynamics and streamlining was an engineer by the name of Paul Jaray back in 1920. Incorporating this shape in to my design and not ignoring practicality was a challenge. The body was designed with full ergonomic considerations to allow for it to seat four people comfortably. To that effect we now have a car that seats four and needs minimal energy for affective mobility. To supercharge those benefits further the car will use braking and thermal energy recovery technologies in its quest to efficiently conserve as much energy as possible. The result of this careful design exercise is an exotic, sporty, practical, comfortable, safe, eco friendly, unique, fun to drive car that makes one heck of a personal statement as it cruises the streets in search of tomorrow!
The first goal is to complete the proof of concept prototype and use it for marketing and promotion so that we may initiate the limited production process based on custom orders.
Second is to build the research and development vehicle and use it to fine tune the current technologies used in the prototype as well as implementing new ones as they present themselves from the energy research being done.
The third phase in this evolutionary process is to build production cars that will surpass the original proof of concepts energy conserving achievements. Up to this point these will be all hand built cars which are cost prohibitive for mass markets so they will be built for discerning customers who want to be involved in the evolution of personal transportation all the while displaying their love and passion for unique precision built automobiles. It is at this time that we discover whether the Zoleco goes on as a limited production special interest car or is given the ability to go on as a mass produced vehicle if accepted by the masses. I am also looking at the possibility of offering it as a homebuilt kit for those that want a hands on cost effective way of getting into this type of car.
Once all the body, interior and underbody design is completed there will be a complete set of multi-section molds built. From these molds the body panels will be laid up using a combination of carbon fiber and Kevlar for strength and light weight. The front and rear of the car will have energy absorbing bumpers and associated crush zones built into the chassis. The doors will also have crash energy absorbing structures built into them. These features will make the car a safety structure to protect the occupants in case of a high speed crash.
The benefits associated with the drag reduction of this body design works out as follows. It reduces the Cd by 50% over your typical small car with this engine... that results in an 82% reduction in fuel consumption with no changes to the engine. The next big benefit is the reduction in power required to travel at a certain speed. All indications are that the Zoleco will require 8.2 hp to maintain 65mph.Taking a look at it from a Bonneville Salt Flat perspective indications are that the 80hp available with the baseline engine could feasibly push the Zoleco to just over 145mph with minimal wind noise. Hmmm so 200mph would require... well we will leave that for a later discussion.
The production chassis will be built using light weight chromoly tubing in a full perimeter space frame configuration including a full roll cage embracing the body structure.
The suspension will be macphersion strut in the front with dual swing arms in the rear. There will be a hydraulic system incorporated over the spring suspended units to allow for ride height variation as well as interactive sway control for ultimate cornering and obstacle avoidance stability.
The drive system for the car will be a 3 cylinder turbo charged gasoline engine and 5 speed manual transmission. This power plant is what I call the baseline unit which gives us good power with great fuel economy in a compact light weight package. I estimate this system to give us 91.4 mpg (us) at a speed of 65mph with 27% engine efficiency.
The research car is where we will be conducting thermal efficiency improvement experiments. By just improving the efficiency 2% the mileage will improve by 7% or 6.4 mpg over our 91.4mpg baseline. Of course these are just speculative calculation using existing formulas... however the exciting part will be the actual implementation of these improvements to see just how close we are in our preliminary calculations.
Sources: Zoleco and Zoltan Bod