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Narrow Car Company 'mule' demostrates auto leaning capability in turn, the heart of the tandem seating vehicle
Computer generated concept of meter-wide, 2.5 meter long Naro Car in which driver and passenger sit in tandem at nearly the same eye level as passengers in sport utility vehicles. The heart of the vehicle is its leaning chassis that keeps the center of force in a turn firmly planted on the road. The vehicle is being developed in Wales as part of aggressive regional business development program.

Naro Does It

Exclusive EV World video interview with Narrow Car Company founder and managing director, Hugh Kemp during 2007 AFVi conference and expo in Anaheim, California.

By EV World

Hugh Kemp's test 'mule' isn't very pretty. But it doesn't have to be; it's meant to prove his concept for a leaning, tandem commuter vehicle actually works.

The ideas behind the Naro Car aren't new, by any means. CommuterCar's Tango , Fly the Road's Venture One and SAM's Cree, just to name a few, all are based on a tandem driver-passenger arrangement. Other concept and limited production vehicles -- including the VentureOne -- have explored the stability potential of a leaning chassis with various degrees of success.

But what is refreshingly different about Hugh Kemp's approach is to offer them in a vehicle that gives the driver superb visibility and lets others on the road see you: call it a "see and be seen" design strategy. His roll (leaning) system is patented.

No, the Naro Car isn't electric. Kemp's initial choice is a small 400 cc internal combustion engine that generates the equivalent of around 15kW (20bhp) and should do 0-to-60 mph in 12 seconds; not a screamer, but eminently practical for grid-locked UK cities and towns. Top speed is 85 mph and fuel economy is estimated at 100 mpg. Carbon dioxide emissions are quoted at a mere 60g/km. The dry weight of the vehicle is 300 kg.

Since it's just 2.5 meters in length, a meter wide, and about 1.7 meters tall, Kemp believes it will be easy to park and thrifty on petrol (gasoline) where the price for a liter is now a pound, which is roughly equivalent to $8 a gallon here in the US, estimates Nick Carter, who just returned from a trip to England.

In the following 9-minute video, taped during the 2007 AFVi Conference and Expo in Anaheim, California, Kemp gives EV World readers a exclusive look into rationale of the design and notes that while the initial models will be fueled by gasoline (petrol), he has also started looking at various electric-drive options including hub motors and ultracapacitors.

Kemp was the program manager for the Lotus Elise program and then moved on as the engineering director for Pro-Drive, a racing vehicle design specialty house in the UK. While there he complained "bitterly" to a colleague about the time it took to commute to work. Rather than take his colleague's suggestion to drive a motorbike, Kemp began toying with the idea of an enclosed two-passenger vehicle akin to a motorcycle, but safer and out of inclement weather. Besides being fun to drive, especially through stalled traffic, it would offer great visibility and emulate the motorcycle's ability to lean into a turn for enhanced safety.

The Welsh are providing Kemp with the necessary bridging capital to get him from the open mule stage to his first prototype, at which point he can start showing the vehicle to investors, backers and bankers. In the meantime, his small team is using software to help develop the vehicle, including virtually crashing it.

He told EV World that once he has that physical prototype, he's going to start hitting up his investors for the capital to move the vehicle to production.

Google Video Link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2145415767047536246&hl=en

Times Article Viewed: 8897
Published: 11-Apr-2007

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