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Bizarre-looking Japanese EV is most aerodynamic production vehicle ever

Bizarre-looking Japanese EV is most aerodynamic production vehicle ever

Posting in Energy

The SIM-LEI all-electric vehicle will have twice the range of a Nissan Leaf

The SIM-LEI all-electric vehicle has a drag coefficient of 0.19, which means that when it goes on sale in Japan around 2013, it will be the most aerodynamic car ever to be mass produced. That means it will achieve twice the range of an all-electric Nissan Leaf -- a total of 186 miles -- with a battery pack of approximately the same size.

Plenty of experimental vehicles have achieved this level of streamlining before, but what makes the SIM LEI different is that it's a car you could actually see a small family using as its primary vehicle. Or at least in Japan, where small cars are already the norm. The car is unusually long for its width, in order to accommodate cargo and further reduce its air resistance.

Despite its makers' devotion to practicality, measures undertaken to make the car displace as little air as possible are pretty extreme, from stubby rear-view mirrors to side-impact beams placed on the outside of the vehicle's doors to make the vehicle 4 inches narrower.

The car's rear view is so bad, in fact, that its rear view mirrors are supplemented with a trio of screens hooked to rear-facing cameras, including one that feeds a 19 inch display, giving the driver an extra wide-angle view of what's behind. It's a good thing, too -- if more than a few of these make it onto the road, you can expect to see drivers trying to extend their range by drafting each other on the highway, like cyclists on the Tour de France.

h/t Green Car Reports

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Christopher Mims

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Christopher Mims has written for Scientific American, WIRED, Popular Science, Fast Company, Good, Discover, Slate, Technology Review, Nature and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. Formerly, he was an editor at Scientific American, Grist and Seed. He is based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure