Imagine if, after the Second World War, the Germans, English, and Italians could all agree on a vehicle design concept. Then, to make it happen, they went to Estonia and made a prototype. This might seem like an alternate universe kind of story, but it's (with some delay) what happened with the Nobe 100.
The Nobe 100 (pronounced "no-bee" not "nobby") looks like a vintage design team from Alfa Romeo, MINI, and Volkswagen all got together and created a prototype. Maybe with some influence from Bertone and some apologies via MINI for their treatment of the Robin in Mr Bean.
All of this might make the Nobe 100 sound hideous, but it's most definitely not that. It is classically beautiful in its treatment of lines and motion. Unlike Paul's Elio or similar tadpole-style three-wheeled creations we've seen in recent years, the Nobe looks downright breathtaking.
A physical prototype is now on display in Sweden after almost a year of work since the original concept was introduced via computer-aided drawings and designs. The Nobe was instigated by Roman Moljar, who often looks very serious in photographs, and is now backed by Peter Vesterbacka, formerly of Rovio/Angry Birds. Most of the Nobe's funding will be via crowdfunding, with a new round starting now to build investment backing for further refinement and prototype development. Crowdfunding is limited to Europe only and we can assume initial vehicle sales would also be limited to Europe.
The prototype being shown in Stockholm now is a non-functioning design concept to show how the vehicle will look and the dimensions at play for the exterior and interior. There are a lot of great things about the car, including more divulged information about the intended powertrain and capability it will have.
The Nobe 100 is based on threes. It has three wheels, three seats, and charges in less than three hours. Combined range is 220 km (137 miles) and the car is, get this, three-wheel drive. Each of the Nobe's three wheels has a hub motor, which combine to provide about 60 horsepower for a top speed of 109.5 km/h (68 mph). Nobe says it should reach 60 mph from a stop in about 6 seconds, with the vehicle's light weight (via a composite body) being key to its range expectation and speeds.
The Nobe 100's stated goal is to be a stylish, autonomous-driving-ready, urban vehicle with the capability of going intercity. Interestingly, about 24 km (15 miles) of the range on the car comes from a detachable "luggage"-style battery pack that can be easily removed without tools and recharged from any standard European outlet in about half an hour. This portable battery normally runs accessories in the vehicle, but can also be used to extend the range of the Nobe or add juice when standard EV charging plugs aren't available while parked. This novel idea is a brilliant solution to both anticipated range anxiety and the problem of EV infrastructure.
The Nobe 100 is a beautiful little car whose androgynous ponytailed hood ornament seems to be screaming "Make this!". With lovely styling, tons of quirky appeal, and seating for three skinny people, it definitely has the potential to be a surefire hit. If it were to come to America, it'd have immediate appeal to the hipster community and their love of all things retro, but not too inconvenient. Add in some of Nobe's buzzwords like "upgradable" and "connected" and you've all but lined up the Silicon Valley crowd at your doorstep for this one.
The Nobe 100 is a beautiful mix of design, marketing, and realism. Watch the video below to hear Moljar discuss his vision in suitably artistic terms.
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