How to build the ‘world’s greenest car’? Hit ‘print’

The Urbee two-passenger vehicle being designed by an engineering group in Canada is being billed not only as the world’s greenest car, but the first to have its entire body printed, rather than manufactured.

The body for the Urbee prototype was created using 3D printing technology from Stratasys. The team at Kor Ecologic settled on the printing route after concluding it would be much faster and more efficient that designing a fiberglass prototype using traditional manufacturing methods. Printing body parts not only makes it possible to create the necessary pieces in a matter of weeks rather than months, but enables faster refinements, since design changes can be made on a computer rather than by hand on a full-scale model.

Urbee’s creators say the vehicle should be able to achieve up to 250 miles per gallon on the highway and 125 miles per gallon in the city using ethanol as a fuel. It also features two small electric motors that will enable the car to be charged overnight using electricity from a garage-top solar panel or wind turbine.

Thanks to computer-based modeling, the vehicle is also designed to be super-efficient aerodynamically: its coefficient of drag comes in at 0.149. (The lower the coefficient of drag, the more aerodynamic the vehicle. A Prius, by comparison, has a coefficient of drag of 0.26.)

Engineer Jim Kor, who heads the Urbee design team, has said he hopes to begin producing the vehicle commercially by 2014.


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