When it comes to green electric vehicles, many new cars sport very odd and unattractive designs, at least IMHO.
Sure, a few EVs out there look quite nice, like the Tesla Roadster, for example. But not the Sim-Lei, a new Japanese EV that is the result of a joint venture between Keio University and some 34 companies.
Frankly, it reminds me more than a little of the head of a battle droid from the new Star Wars films.
Odd looks aside, the car boasts some pretty sweet green features under the hood, with a purported driving range on a full charge of 190 miles. As you may recall, that is nearly double the official range of EVs like the Nissan Leaf. Granted, it's very common for EVs to get much less than the estimates in real-world driving. The top speed for the Sim-Lei is a scant 60 mph, and it has a 24.5-kilowatt battery pack.
"The basic concept of the design of this vehicle is to achieve a cruising range of over 300km while maintaining a constant 100km/h speed," Keio University explained in a statement.
"By operating the vehicle with a high efficiency, 65kW, 700 newton meter motor, battery load is suppressed. A drag coefficient of 0.19 has been achieved by minimizing air resistance."
I had hoped that the exterior style might be pure concept meant to grab attention, but apparently the vehicle is set to enter the Japanese market in its current iteration by 2013.
DigiInfo.tv reports that the vehicle interior is quite tech heavy and includes a 19-inch screen for navigation that also acts as a rear-view monitor - along with cameras to supplement tiny side mirrors for improved visibility.
To be honest, I always wonder about the wisdom of cramming EVs with advanced tech like this. Simply put, anything that draws power from that battery pack shortens the driving distance of the car.