By Lloyd Frazier
The oil balloon is just about ready to pop. In the U.S., we are probably looking at $4/gallon gas by the summer. Just a couple months ago, there were rumors that oil was going to trend down slightly and we were going to hover just under $3/gallon this year. When you look at the overall picture, globally, we only saw a 2% increase in consumption. Oil companies are making record profits. OPEC is keeping production at its current level. Investments in oil futures is high. Bottom line – oil has become the monster we all learn to live with because our lives are so ensconced by its presence. In order for people to break away from this monster and regain our energy independence, new ideas and technologies need to be embraced. Personal transportation is of key importance for maintaining liberty and independence. Without affordable, reliable personal transportation, a person is relegated to the masses and governed by the whim of public transportation.
High mileage automobiles are nothing new. They have been around since the turn of the 20th century. Most early concepts were just novel ideas meant to spark the imagination. Economics is what really drives necessity. It is prime time for high mileage cars. Manufacturers are already churning out cars that squeeze more mileage out a gallon of gas. Mileage in the 30’s to low 40’s has become more common. We need cars that get ‘unreal’ mileage. Something in the neighborhood of 100 mpg has become the new moving target for car manufacturers. Gas-Electric hybrids have become mainstream. Most average a 15-20% increase over the same model with a gas engine. Pure, 100% electric cars have been making inroads due to improving battery technology. The good ones are very pricey, like the Tesla. The affordable ones like the Zap are either too slow, don’t have a useful mileage range on a charge, or cannot meet stringent U.S. safety standards.
The Germans, like the Americans, love fast, powerful cars. The German Autobahns allow for high, sustainable speeds that are a perfect fit for them. And like the American auto manufacturers, German companies like Mercedes have been chided for their line of gas guzzling vehicles. What more perfect environment for a small company to surface that offers that ‘unreal’ mileage from an automobile. Loremo AG, out of Munich, Germany was founded in 2000. They design and manufacture cars with very low weight and air resistance. Loremo is an abbreviation for Low Resistance Mobile — Lo-Re-Mo. The car was originally conceived for emerging markets, but now has jumped into the limelight due to high oil prices and global warming concerns. Mass production is slated for 2009. A factory still needs to be constructed.
When you start to look at the car, things jump out at you. Notice that there are no door lines. The way the driver and front seat passenger enter the car is through lifting the whole front end. The windshield and front clip are all one piece. It just pulls forward and tilts forward. You actually step into it. There are videos on the Loremo site that demonstrates how that is done. After thinking about that for awhile, I started to realize that, if you happen to be in a middle of a downpour, the car is going to get wet inside. At least with a conventional car, you can slide in without letting water in. Loremo’s reasoning behind this engineering design is to allow for greater rigidity with less weight.
There is some nifty electronics as well. There is a module that combines internet, GPS, operational information, and entertainment all in one compact monitor design. What happens when this gets drenched!? I am sure those clever Germans have that covered.
Since this is a four passenger vehicle, you may be wondering how they get in for the ride. Exactly like the driver does, except from the rear panel that tilts rearward. They just step in as well. As I mentioned, you can visualize how this works by visiting Loremo’s website. I ponder on another observation. This would not work well for elderly folks. In a conventional car, you just back your fanny into the seat and then rotate your hips to get your legs into the car and your in. Very easy for most older individuals and those with some mobility issues. I just cannot see those types of people buying one of these vehicles.
Overall, the car appears, in concept and design, to be just what the doctor ordered for overcoming the OPEC blues. They will be offering two models with diesel engines. The LS model will be able to achieve 157/mpg. Yes, you read that correctly, but I will wait while you go get your reading glasses to confirm your suspicions. Got ’em? Good. I stated…the LS model will be able to achieve 157/mpg. And, the LS model will be selling for less than 15,000 Euros. So what does that translate in US bucks? Well, as of this writing, 1 Euro = 1.5383 US dollars. So that makes it approximately 23K in our neck of the world. That’s the price of a base Toyota Prius. And the payback is 3 times quicker. There will also be a GT model that only gets…pardon me if I sound a bit giddy…ONLY 104/mpg. They will be offering an all electric as well. Just to give you perspective on the LS model. It will have a maximum speed of 100 MPH, and it can do that in 20 seconds. It will have a 5.28 US gallon fuel tank that can take you 808 miles! It all just seems so surreal, doesn’t it? The question is, will we ever see something like this in the US? To quote a famous Texan, Hank Hill….”I tell you what”, someone stands to make some big bucks if they are able to sell these here. Suddenly, the Chevy Volt seems so yesterday.
Lloyd, signing out…