The Ultra-Light Loremo

Over the weekend, I happened onto a link for a German car that is being designed for an amazing 157 miles per gallon (1.5 l/100 km). The car is called the Loremo, an ultra-light, two-cylinder, 20-horsepower, turbo-diesel with an price tag of about $15,000 U.S.

The Ultra-Light Loremo

After poking around a bit, I found that there is a history of ultra-light vehicles, but they have not sold well:

Driving On The Light Side

In 1999, German carmaker Volkswagen launched the Lupo 3L TDI in Europe, a no-frills subcompact that got 100 km on 3 L of gas. Volkswagen built 29,500 Lupo 3Ls and then last year yanked the car from the market. “It was too frugal,” says Hartmut Hoffmann, a product spokesman for VW. “Customer interest faded.”

In 1997, Ford announced plans for what it called the P2000, which promised to be 40% lighter than conventional family sedans. And in 2002, Opel, the European subsidiary of General Motors, unveiled the Eco-Speedster, a sleek, low-riding sports car that gets 2.5 L of fuel to 100 km. But none of the manufacturers ever intended to offer their ultralight cars for sale.”

But with fuel prices at historic highs, all that may be about to change. CEO Heilmaier says 10,000 people have signaled interest in buying a Loremo since March, when a model was shown at the Geneva auto show. That’s not bad for a car that hasn’t even been driven yet. The first drivable prototype is to be built this year, and Sommer expects to go into production of the first 5,000 to 10,000 cars in 2009 and ramp up to 100,000 by 2012. If consumers are finally ready to embrace radical fuel efficiency, then Sommer and his team will have truly nailed it.

Let’s just hope it all works out per the design. Personally, I think that’s a good looking car. If fuel prices stay high, they will probably fly out of the showrooms.

13 thoughts on “The Ultra-Light Loremo”

  1. It’s too bad we don’t have an ‘experimental’ category for US license.

    Without that I’m sure this car would have to be (a) inflated to conventional weight to pass US regulations, or (b) wait for a change to those regulations.

    I understand that US rules are more lax on ‘motorcycles’ and that those are often (state by state) designated as 3 or fewer wheels …

  2. It’s too bad we don’t have an ‘experimental’ category

    The US is exceedingly lax when it comes to experimental cars. For example, “kit cars” loopholes let you to register pretty much anything as long as part of it is assembled away from the main factory.

    Loremo’s specs are questionable. It makes no sense that the GT (3 cyl turbodiesel) would consume 80% more fuel than the LS (2 cyl) version. The weight difference is only a few percent and the aerodynamics identical. I suspect they’re using “miracle engine” SFC’s for the 2 cyl. They’ve never built a running car, so they can make up whatever numbers they want. The 2 cyl engine also appears to have negative cost; that’s the only way I can explain the 4k euro price difference between the GT and LS.

    They claim 63 mph up a standard 7% highway grade, but that’s with a very lightweight driver. Four adults, or three plus luggage, would limp up at 40 mph.

  3. Honda Insight: 155 in. L 66.7 in. W 53.3 in. H 1850 lbs.

    Loremo: 151 L 53.5 W 43.3 H 992 lbs.

    I know the Insight was too small for me (check my name), I can’t imagine I would fit into one of these things, or that it would go once I were in there.

  4. Well doggy, I’m speaking from California:

    “The thought of getting your new kit car registered in California is usually one that triggers feeling s of fear and terror. This article is intended to help you break it down into bite-size pieces that can be comleted one step at a time.”

  5. Crude is crumbling down today, who knows, we may see $40 oil in six motnhs.
    That is the problem with fossil oil conservation: It sets up huge price declines in crude, thereby undercutting the reason for conservation.
    Cars like this are necessary, but must be encouraged through punitive gasoline taxes.
    As the Fat Man said, Fat Chance.

  6. “That is the problem with fossil oil conservation: It sets up huge price declines in crude, thereby undercutting the reason for conservation.”

    That’s a funny use of the word ‘problem’ there benjamin 😉

    Conservation sufficient to reduce ‘quantity demanded’ world-wide would be quite an accomplishment. I don’t think that has happened yet though.

  7. “The thought of getting your new kit car registered in California is usually one that triggers feeling s of fear and terror.

    Odo, the thought of doing anything at CA DMV always filled me with terror. The move to TX was eye-opening.

  8. I’ve checked out Caterhams from time to time. Fun to drive (though kind of low slung to be seen by other drivers). The hedging answers sellers here give about getting them licensed did not fill me with confidence (so I got a Honda S2000 for a while).

    Anyway, I notice that a big seller is down in Texas.

    There was a version of that car that could get 100 mpg out of the shop. I recommend it as a fun test drive, if nothing else …

  9. There was a version of that car that could get 100 mpg out of the shop.

    Those EcoMarathons often allow “lug-and-coast” driving. You accelerate from a few MPH at close to full throttle in top gear. This doesn’t produce scintillating acceleration, but does keep the engine near peak efficiency. Around 30-40 mph you shut the engine down and coast back down to a few MPH. Rinse, lather, repeat. You can get some insane MPG numbers this way because your average road load is low (due to low speed) while average thermal efficiency is high (due to open throttle lugging).

    A lightweight car like the Caterham might average 100 Wh/mile at low speed. Peak efficiency for a simple gas engine is a bit over 30%. These numbers translate directly into 100+ MPG. Plug in the 250 Wh/mile you’d get with a more typical city/highway combined driving mix and a more realistic 20% average thermal efficiency and that same car would deliver a real-world 26 mpg.

  10. I’d love a Loremo, but I have two small kids and I have to occasionally make long trips. I share the road with giant SUVs and trucks. I want something safe(ish).

    So I have VW Jetta TDI with a dozen airbags, a good crash rating and stability control. Problem is, the Jetta does 5L/100km instead of 1.5L/100km. But I live in the real world.

  11. Hmmm. I’d assumed that the marathon was some kind of constant speed run, and that the Caterham had done well as a result of its low frontal area (bad aerodynamics but a very small and light car).

    Oops, I found the rules here

    An average of 15 with pulse and glide.

  12. The general problems with ultralite cars is, that there are very few people whose transportation requirements they meet.

    Then you factor in the price tag.

    Most of us have an occasional need to transport things like 20+lb bags of: pet food, water softener salt, charcoal, etc.

    Parents need to be able to transport the whole family on occasions.

    At twenty horsepower, the Loremo would be competing with mopeds, increase the horsepower enough and it would be competing with motorcycles. The Loremo’s advantage is it’s enclosed (keeps off the rain), but the competition is a lot cheaper.

    A lot of potential buyers will think “for another five grand, I can buy a real car”.

  13. King,
    Did you see this?: Germany has sufficient biomass available for large-scale BtL production which could meet 20% of today’s fuel requirements, according to the study. That could increase to 35% by 2030 as technology improves.

    Then there is some sense of reality: Production cost for BtL could be lowered to less than €0.80 per liter (US$3.98 per gallon US).
    Some of that dollar price estimate is probably high due to the exchange rate. Still “could be lowered to less than” is about as loose as it gets. Probably means we need gas at $7.50/gal for the technology to float. OK, wait until summer 2009?

    And then there is this: The study found that substantial synergies can be obtained by integrating BtL production—which first gasifies biomass to produce syngas for input to the Fischer-Tropsch process—in existing refinery and chemical plants.
    As I said before, we are going to buy our green fuels from Big Oil. You guys working for Big Oil better start working on explaining to the masses why green fuels are so expensive…

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