Walking the miles of aisles at the 2006 SEMA Show, a sleek capsule of a car caught my eye. The team of young Canadians manned the Fuel Vapor Technologies Booth, and they were agog at the SEMA experience. "Toto, we're not in British Columbia anymore." They pitched their booth at SEMA with the hope of attracting capital to fund future development of their dream vehicle.
Fast-forward three years, and Fuel Vapor Technologies has changed their company name to Future Vehicle Technologies (FVT). The tandem-seat three-wheeler that was once powered by a modified engine lifted from a Honda Accord now features a plug-in series hybrid electric drive system. The new models is called the eVaro (Electric Vehicle with AdvancedRegeneration Onboard). Company officials pronounce the name "E-varrow" as in arrow.
With looks that are only slightly more conservative than the Aptera and a powertrain that is similar in concept to the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, FEV hopes the eVaro will do well in the upcoming X Prize competition.
In testing supervised by University of Fraser Valley (Canada), the company claims a steady-state average fuel economy of 275 mpg for the speed range of 15-40 mph and 165 mpg for highway speeds of 45-75 mph. It must be noted that these figures have no equivalency to EPA city or highway driving cycles, but the numbers are impressive nonetheless.
The eVaro used in testing runs with a 75 kw electric motor, lithium manganese prismatic cell batteries supplied by EIG North America, and an on-board gasoline-powered generator. In periods of high demand, the motor will draw power from both the batteries and generator, helping the eVaro reach 0-60 in a claimed five seconds. This is not surprising given that the system runs on 400 volts and 600 amps. Top speed is said to be 135 mph, with an estimated cruising range of 90 miles on a charge before the generator kicks on, and then as far as 325 miles while using fuel from the generator's two-gallons tank.
FVT is also experimenting with higher-powered motors, with one Siamesed twin-motor configuration putting out over 200 Kw. Additional advancements should enable future versions of the eVaro to run at highway speeds using only the power generated by the on-board generator.
All components ride within a tube frame riding on three wheels, Morgan style. The passenger sits behind the driver as on a motorcycle. The aircraft-style canopy pivots up to the right side of the vehicle.
While the company has hopes of one-day starting production of the eVaro, the prospects are daunting. If they win the $10 million X Prize, that will certainly help their efforts.