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Obvio! Selects Lotus Engineering to Develop Tri-Fuel Cars

The Obvio! chassis based on Niess Rings.

Brazil’s Obvio! Automotoveiculos S.A. has selected the UK’s Lotus Engineering to develop two “trybrid” high-performance microsports cars for markets across the globe, in a deal potentially worth more than £70 million (US$137 million).

The Obvio! 828 and 012 are the first products for the new Brazilian OEM. (Earlier post.) The full engineering program will include the development of an advanced vehicle safety structure, the integration of multi-fuel engines that will run on gasoline, bioethanol (in blends up to 100%—E100—but optimized for E85) or natural gas, and other future powertrain variants.

In July 2006, Obvio! CEO Ricardo Machado said that while the initial versions of the 828 and 012 car designs will be flex-fueled, the 828E and 012E with electric drive systems will follow shortly. (Earlier post.)

Obvio! has a strategic partnership with California automobile distributor ZAP, which has agreed to be the exclusive North American distributor and has pre-purchased 50,000 Obvio! units.

Lotus Engineering will work with a range of Brazilian supplier-partners to develop two variants of the new chassis concept which will be engineered incorporating Niess Elliptical Survival Rings, already well-proven in the aerospace industry.

Providing exceptional chassis performance as well as class-leading safety, the concept also allows for very light structures. The target weight for the 012 is 750 kg (1,648 lbs) and for the 828 is 600 kg (1,318 lbs). This will enable the vehicles to feature good performance characteristics while also running with efficient and economical power plants.

Initially, power will come from a 1.6-liter unit produced by Brazilian engine manufacturer Tritec Motors coupled with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Lotus Engineering will develop a new engine management unit, which will give the engine “trybrid” capabilities, running automatically on natural gas, bio-ethanol or gasoline. In parallel, Lotus will develop 170 hp and 250 hp turbocharged variants for higher performance models in the Obvio! range.

A core Obvio!-Lotus engineering management team will be based in a dedicated project center at Lotus’ Hethel headquarters. It will manage the engineering program for the two vehicles, which will be delivered by Lotus Engineering facilities worldwide and for the first time by a group of high-profile Brazilian-based tier one suppliers who will be heavily involved from the very earliest stages. The two vehicles will be built in Brazil, with production expected to start late in 2008.


Adam Galas


A very strange looking car, but it does get 35 mpg combined while running E-85.

On top of that it costs $14K and is loaded with features including the onboard computer that is very cool.

Gives you one display with live vehicle diagnostic and maintenance tools, voice assisted turn-by-turn navigation, integrated organizer with mobile device sync ability, a mobile media center incorporating features normally expected from a home theater system*, web connectivity, emergency services, and safety features such as a rear view monitoring camera . . . an experience like no other."

I would consider buying one once the reliability were proven.


Using the rings makes for a strong small car and the trifuel feature is very nice.


Thats a good step int he right direction.
My question is can you mix and match multiple fuels at once. If it can do a liquid fuel as well as a volatile gas fuel in mixed proportions you really have something going.
If your using any fuel alcohol, or any combustible liquid for that matter and your Hy boosting it or CNG or LNG or any other gas fuel and liquid fuel boosting combo that I would say is the holy grail of fueled cars. Roy McAlister of the American Hydrogen association converted a geo to run on everything from hy boosted diesel to gas to ethanol to turpines. Quite fascinating if one wants to do the research on it.


If you review plasma reformers here, you can see that liquid fuels can be converted. This car is either type of fuel but not a mixture.


shaun mann

I'd be willing to bet the trybrid never makes it to market.

Petrol and ethanol can be stored in a nice small light inexpensive tank.

CNG requires a bulky expensive tank.

They also require different refueling ports, gas lines, and some sensors to change the engine settings.

The car is a bit small to reasonably fit all the bits for both on board and who would pay for a CNG tank that they are unlikely to ever use?

sounds like a good news release but an unlikely reality.


How do they intend to make the circular structure components? Some sort of casting?
Bending the metal would make it weaker for structural use.

Max Reid

Its not necessary to have a CNG tank with 200 mile range.

It will be better if a company can make a Bi-fueled (CNG-Gas) vehicle which has 10 mile range on CNG. It may cost just $1,000 above regular vehicle. Its just like a plug-in hybrid.

At 10 miles / day, that vehicle will be travelling 3,000 miles / year on CNG which works out to 1/4 of the distance travelled by a vehicle.

Along with the home refuelling device, it may cost $3,000 more and that money could be recovered in few years.


With todays carbon fiber tanks you could get 200 mile range. The Honda Civic GX natural gas car has a 200 mile range and does not cost that much more. As long as you are bifuel might was well be multifuel and fun E85/M85 as well. I would like to run around town on CNG for cleaner air and fuel in the garage, but have liquid fuel for longer trips and fill ups anywhere.


I was looking at the history file on CNG here and there are lots of gasoline/CNG bifuel cars. One by Mercedes has a supercharger and gets 165hp out of 1.8L. It just automatically switches over to gasoline when the tank pressure gets low and has 180 mile range on CNG. This range would be plenty for most people and still have the utility of gasoline for long trips.

Joseph M.

I'm in love with the Obvio o12e. Sweet. I can't wait to buy one of these great looking cars.


Tri fuel stations are all ready set up in Brazil to take care of there auto.'s. It seams like the US (#1) is always behind the rest of the world in tech. advances. We might discover the way - then give it away. Brazil has been using ethonol sence back in the 60's.
Now CNG. The cars have computers that determan which fuel it has the most of & uses that at start up,then switches over as needed - the driver doesn't know it happens, I/e computer controled. Watch "Planet Green" more.

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