In development since 1998, a running prototype of the fascinating Jetcar design emerged at the recent Frankfurt Auto Show. The name is a reference to the body shape and cockpit design rather than the means of propulsion - the two seats are positioned centrally in-line and expanded front and side shields communicate a sensation of flying according to the creators of the Jetcar 2.5, Christian Wenger-Rosenau and his brother Michael Wenger.
Fuel efficiency is at the basis of the design - the idea was to create a light, streamlined vehicle with extremely low fuel consumption and to this end, light weight materials have been applied to construction of the outer frame and throughout every detail of the design.
The result is a vehicle weighing just 620 kg (in present configuration) with a top speed of 160 kmh.
A limited edition of 100 vehicles will be produced by Jetcar Zukunfts GmbH in Germany during 2004. There will be a standard version and two Sport versions available - the Jetcar Sport I with 45 kW and the Jetcar Sport II with 60 kW. Both are driven by a 3-cylinder, 0.6-litre engine and feature six-speed electronic auto-transmission.
The Jetcar 2.5 will be highly customisable in terms of colour, individually measured seats and additional equipment. A convertible model will also be available.
The car will be manufactured manually so the price (beginning at 48,000 euros for the standar model and and 53,000 for the Sport I) is above the range of other small cars such as the VW Golf.
Wenger-Rosenau and Michael Wenger, who developed their interest in energy efficiency while building wind power facilities in Germany over the last decade, also have a smaller version of the Jetcar - the Jetcar 1.5 - in development. This car has the same body but is powered by an 8kW diesel engine with an anticipated fuel consumption of just 1.5 litres per 100 km.
Some parallels can be seen in the aerodynamic properties of the Jetcar design and Volkswagen's '1-litre' vehicle - a project that demonstrated an incredible fuel efficiency of 0.89 litres per 100 km during 2003.