ZAP’s New Flex-Fuel Minicars
31 October 2005
|The Obvio! 828|
ZAP has broadened its future minicar offerings by becoming the exclusive North American distribution for a pair of new flex-fuel minicars to be produced by Obvio! in Brazil. The two companies expect to unveil prototypes of the two in the US by the end of 2005. Initial plans are to roll out the vehicles in 2007.
Unlike its approach with the Americanized Smart Car, where ZAP takes the responsibility for converting imported smarts to meet US requirements, ZAP, which has taken a 20% stake in the company, will work closely with Obvio to ensure the vehicles are fully compliant when they leave the plant.
|The Obvio! 012|
Under the terms of the agreement, ZAP is ordering 50,000 vehicles from the Brazilian company during the three year period following initial delivery.
Both models, the 828 and the 012, may be small, but they feature an engine more than twice as large as that in the smart car: a 1.6-liter Tritec engine mated with a ZF Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
Tritec started out in 1997 as a joint venture, based in Brazil, between Chrysler and the Rover Group (then a subsidiary of BMW) to design a new small straight-4 engine for small cars. When BMW sold Rover Group, BMW retained the stake in Tritec.
Chrysler designed the Tritec engine, which is related to the 2.0-liter Chrysler Neon engine. The Tritec comes in three versions: 1.4-liter, 1.6-liter and supercharged 1.6-liter, and has been used in models of the Mini, the Neon and the PT Cruiser. (BMW will replace the Tritec in the Mini with an engine it is developing with PSA Peugeot Citroën.)
Both Obvio! models offer a “low consumption” model with an 85 kW (114 hp) entry-level version of the Tritec with combined estimated fuel consumption (using gasoline) of 33 mpg US (29.4 mpg city; 40.69 mpg highway). Obvio says it will also offer 170- and 250-hp versions.
|1The EPA disagrees with ZAP’s 60 mpg figure. (Earlier post.)|
|Engine displacement (cc)||1,598||698|
|Power kW (hp)||85 (114)||45 (60)|
|Combined fuel economy (mpg US)||33||601|
The result is a car more along the lines of a zippy Mini, rather than a fuel-sipping smart. (The 2006 Mini Cooper for the US delivers 31 mpg combined.)
The major difference, though, is the flex-fuel (gasoline or ethanol blend) capability of the Brazilian cars.
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