Automotive

"Unusual-looking" SIM-LEI EV has 300-km range, could be available soon

The SIM-LEI's rear overhang is part of its aerodynamic design
The SIM-LEI's rear overhang is part of its aerodynamic design
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car has a claimed range of 300 kilometers, traveling at a constant speed of 100 km/h
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car has a claimed range of 300 kilometers, traveling at a constant speed of 100 km/h
A 19-inch screen provides navigation and a rearview camera display for the driver of the SIM-LEI
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A 19-inch screen provides navigation and a rearview camera display for the driver of the SIM-LEI
The SIM-LEI's rear overhang is part of its aerodynamic design
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The SIM-LEI's rear overhang is part of its aerodynamic design
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
Specifications of the prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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Specifications of the prototype SIM-LEI electric car
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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The prototype SIM-LEI electric car
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If you were one of the people who were hoping to turn some heads when you drove your Aptera down the street, well ... you may still get your chance to own a truly eye-catching electric car. SIM-Drive, a collaborative of 34 Japanese tech companies and institutions, presented its SIM-LEI prototype EV at the 2011 Electric Vehicle Industrial Exhibition late last year. While you probably either love or hate its looks, there's one thing about it that everyone should like - it can reportedly go about 305 kilometers (189.5 miles) on one charge of its battery, traveling at a constant speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).

A venture company established by Japan's Keio University in 2009, SIM-Drive's goal isn't to commercially produce cars itself, but instead "to provide the highest level of electric vehicle technology and information, at the lowest cost, to all those involved with electric vehicles."

The prototype SIM-LEI electric car has a claimed range of 300 kilometers, traveling at a constant speed of 100 km/h
The prototype SIM-LEI electric car has a claimed range of 300 kilometers, traveling at a constant speed of 100 km/h

The four-seat car's energy efficiency comes thanks largely to its striking aerodynamic design, that results in a drag coefficient of just 0.19. Its long, tapered rear overhang is part of that design, as are its tiny side mirrors (they're augmented with built-in side-view cameras) and its externally-located side impact beams - these serve to reduce the width of its frontal projected area by a total of 100 millimeters. A lightweight steel monocoque frame and low rolling-resistance Bridgestone Ecopia tires also contribute to its efficiency.

A 24.9 kWh-capacity lithium-ion battery pack provides power, while four 65 kW direct-drive in-wheel motors also harvest energy when the vehicle is braking. It can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in a peppy 4.8 seconds, and has a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph). The car weighs in at 1,650 kilograms (3,638 lbs).

A 19-inch screen provides navigation and a rearview camera display for the driver of the SIM-LEI
A 19-inch screen provides navigation and a rearview camera display for the driver of the SIM-LEI

There's quite a bit of cargo space inside, thanks to that enormous overhang. Up front, a 19-inch display allows for functions such as navigation, while also displaying the feed from a rearview camera. Two smaller screens are dedicated to the two side-view cameras.

Although SIM-Drive itself isn't in the car-selling business, interested groups belonging to the collaborative will reportedly be able to sell a commercial version of the SIM-LEI. Large-scale production could start as early as next year.

Source: DigInfo

31 comments
SeekMocha
Put me down in the \"Hate It\" column.
Ethan Brush
I literally recoiled when I saw it\'s picture. I thought it was a range extender for a Prius at first. 0-60 in 4.8 seems pretty quick for an electric. It\'s still ugly though. I\'m still waiting for a golfball car. Then and only then will I be impressed with an EV.
Gadgeteer
A car designed strictly by engineers, not auto stylists. Even the 1980s vintage Ford Probe aerodynamic test vehicles (no relation to the later production model of the same name) looked better than this. But SIM-Drive doesn\'t have to care since they\'re not selling it to the public.
Scion
I wouldn\'t really care what it looked like if it was cheap to buy, cheap to run and did what I needed in terms of range and carrying capacity. However: - \"Cheap\" to me means $20,000 or less, preferably close to $15k - Actual price would probably be $50k in Australia because we get screwed on prices for cars and technology - Actual range is indeterminate since 300km at a constant 100km/h probably also means with 0 head wind and flat, straight road with no other cars. Reality is probably half that or less once you are stop and starting, overtaking and adjusting for other cars etc... - That big rear overhang will take a lot of getting used to, especially when reversing. - You still have whopping great batteries that die after a few years and cost 80% of the cars price to replace. How about just buying a cheap second hand diesel?
Paul Hutchinson
Count me in - if I can rent the battery.
Russell McMahon
Ben - a useful writeup, thanks, but it would be enhanced if the units used were meaninful and consistent. Reducing the frontal projected area by 100mm is meaningless. mm are not units of area. 100 mm^2 seems far to small so maybe it was a 100 mm vertical slice equivalent (probably) or ?? [I happen to care about measures like that so would like to know th real values - I'm not just being pedantic.) 0-100kin 4.8 seconds is very very very crisp. Not quite super-car but better than most. With a 1.6 tom battery bearer this seems unlikely - not impossible but ... ? 19 inch display? Maybe . A "normal form factor 19" display would be vast and unmanageable as a dashboard display. It may be an 19" wide lower res version or ??? Russell
Jamii Hamlin
This thing could make a great futuristic hirst, but its so ugly I would refuse to drive it alive. Why is it that most battery propelled cars seem to lack a basic solar panel for recharging?
ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE
I can never understand why battery powered cars need to be so ugly!! Why , why, why. I realise that aerodynamics is a part of it , but their really is no excuse. Two aerodynamic masterpieces immediatley spring to mind. The World War Two Spitfire designed in the late 1930\'s and developing into the early 1940\'s and the incredible Concorde, both iconic. So building something aerodynamically efficient and beutiful to the eye can be done so there is no excuse for the ugly Prius and Aptera and other designs. It seems a prerequisite that electric cars have to be ugly. Sorry , wrong. Nobody will convince me it has to be this way. Anyway, up to about 60mph aerodynamics does not make a great deal of difference on a car weighing a staggering 3638 lbs !!!!. I suggest the makers of this vehicle go to Lotus or Caterham and get a lesson on what it means to be efficient. Being light should come top of the list I think these companies may well tell you.
SpaceBagels
Internet \'know-it-alls\' always wanted cars to be designed by engineers, saying \"oooh that\'s aerodynamically terrible, ooooh artists shouldn\'t have anything to do with designing cars\" etc etc but now when there\'s finally one, these same people said \"ooooh they\'re ugly, ooooohhhh engineers shouldn\'t design cars\" Anyways, that car looks like someone crossed a Volkswagen Beetle with a stormtrooper helmet
bio-power jeff
I like the design....