A Switzerland-based company is testing an extended-range plug-in mini-vehicle that it says gets more than 200 miles per gallon and has a single-tank range of more than 300 miles, according to website TechnologicVehicles.com.

The company, Catecar, tested a prototype of the vehicle at the Geneva Airport this week. The car weighs less than 800 pounds, while its batteries account for about 10 percent of the vehicle's weight, according to the website. Making the car even more energy efficient are the solar panels on the vehicle's roof.

At just under 10 feet long, Catecar is about a foot longer than Daimler's Smart ForTwo two-seater and about two feet shorter than the Mini Cooper. In other words, it's not big – but the company does have big plans, and production could start next year, TechnologicVehicles reports.


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  • 26 Comments
      Actionable Mango
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've looked VERY VERY closely at this picture and determined that it is not a real photo. If you look at the bushes in the background they are purple. :P
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm not sure what I Th!nk about this.......
        imoore
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Exactly. Either CAtecar is one of the companies that owned a piece of Th!nk after Ford abandoned it or copied the City's first generation design. The similarities are uncanny.
      Ziv
      • 3 Years Ago
      Any car that thinks that putting a solar panel on the roof is worth it, probably isn't.
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        Ziv Don't underestimate solar panels. In hot areas, they can give you 4 miles of range per week. Now imagine if you have 1 million solar panel equipped cars on the road. That would be 4 millions solar miles per week, x 32 =.......128 million miles a year.
        Ziv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        Nick, I understand what you are saying, but if you took the same panel that you are going to 'waste' on the roof of a car, due to the angle being off most of the time, and mount the same panel on the roof of your garage/home, you will get a lot more bang for your buck. I would imagine that the panel on the roof of your garage/home will generate two to three times the electricity that the one on your car would. You get the same benefit of reducing the amount of electricity you need to pay for and you reduce the weight/complexity of the car which will get you back most of the miniscule gain in AER you would have realized with the panel on the car. I think have a solar panel on a car is a cool idea, but it just doesn't seem to make sense, yet. Maybe if the panels were cheaper AND more efficient? But even then, it would still make more sense to put them on your home, not your car.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          A small solar panel is going to make effectively zero difference to your house's energy consumption, but will keep a small fan going in your car as Audi do as an accessory if it is parked in the sun, or keep your battery from going flat if you leave it for a week at the airport.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          No doubt it is better used on your roof. But there is not reason not to have them on your roof AND your car roof. The panels are fairly cheap now, so why not? Every little thing that extends the range a little bit helps. There will be some people that will end up making it home due to the extra couple miles added while parking outside in the sun.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        Meh. They are certainly not going to give much mileage to speak of. But they can do things like keep your car cool on a hot sunny day so you don't waste your battery on AC. Every little bit helps. I would have agreed a couple years go but PV panel prices have dropped in half, so they are probably worth it now.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        that's probably not quite true. since this is a light car it might be particularly untrue. it might provide 10km range per day if left in a sunny region and solar cells don't have to be expensive.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      could be worse. let's see more
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a beautiful rendering. /sarcasm Don't the Swiss have ANY skills in 3D modeling and rendering? What a joke.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick
        i think the Americans and Japanese have the rendering skills. We have examples with Tron and Bewolf, and the Japanese....well, those tentacles look really realistic!
        imoore
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick
        Like DaveMart hinted at, it looks like a Th!nk City. I'm believing the Swiss are acting more like the Chinese automakers - copycats. No design skills at all.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      They fit both a battery and an ICE in that tiny little thing? Impressive. Silly but impressive. That should just be a pure electric commuter vehicle. rent a hybrid if you need to drive long distance.
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      It make more sense to include a small integrated compacted miniaturazed well adapted gasoline and/or diesel electrical generator with solar panels to assist the battery.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Yugo" girl! Hey, if it works, I'm all for it. Electric cars: So many promises, so few results.
      marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Odd little car, but strangely likable. Worth a test drive, if only to inspect the technology. At 350 kg, its certainly a lightweight! Being Swiss, I assume the Catecar would be capable of passing all the safety requirements. Catecar hopes to retail the little car for approx. $US 16,500 ! Catecar SA was originally formed to sell MDI Compressed Air technology. However, when the Compressed Air bubble burst (sorry) , Catecar SA adapted the little vehicle to become a hybrid. The Solar panel would be able to power a couple of fans, maybe, but who cares? The overall vehicle maybe quite good. The problem is, will Catecar SA run out of funds before production?
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        That's around the price that VW are charging for the UP, which is like, a real car. I don't know what premium they are charging for it, but it is coming in a CNG version too, without loosing any space inside, so in many jurisdictions the fuel costs would be approximately zero, give or take - but not unfortunately in the UK, where CNG is both expensive and rarely available - we use LPG instead.
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        Do you know what happened to MDI ? Their system didn't work?
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Nick
          @Nick. MDI, sold licencing to several countries, but all ended in failure. Catecar SA, Tata and several others are currently suing Guy Negre the CEO of the company. Another Compressed Air car manufacturer, Energine Corporation has become defunct due to the arrest of it's CEO on fraud charges! Compressed Air seems to be an impractical technology.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      200mpg and 300 mile range? A 1.3 gallon gas tank?
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