Hybrid concept has only one horse

In the never-ending quest for ever more horsepower by some automakers, it's refreshing to see inventive, ecologically-friendly ideas for new propulsion systems. One firm in particular, though, might have taken the low-horsepower hybrid car to the extreme. A Dubai group is proposing that their one-horsepower vehicle supplemented by electric motors is the greenest transportation system available. Oh, wait. Not one horsepower. One horse-powered vehicle.

Called Naturcar, the concept hybrid conceptualized by Fleethorse is, as the name suggests, powered by a horse. Not pulled by a horse like Conestogas of the wild west, but powered by a horse. For now the concept is nothing but computer-generated video and renderings, but here's how it seems to work.

Passengers sit in the front of the van-sized, mostly glass vehicle, while the horse stands in back on a conveyor belt. Instead of whips and calls of "YAW!" that once were used to motivate horses. The Naturcar, however, uses electricity. No, not to shock, but to power motors on the belt that gets the horse moving. If the horse stops walking, the belt nudges it back into action. The same belt moves the animal's "exhaust" out of the horse's compartment into a holding area beneath the car.

Fleethorse has already thought of the animal cruelty charges it might incur, and has a list of all the precautions Naturcar would employ to ensure the horse's comfort and safety. Unlike its working ancestors, Naturcar's horse would be air conditioned, continually fed and watered and monitored with temperature gauges. The electric motors could even be used to pull the car up hills, sparing the horse the toil.

At first glance, Naturcar seems, well, crazy. A horse-powered car is just nuts, right? Well, yeah. It's nuts, and their ideas for the Naturbus, Naturtaxi and Naturvan are, too. But it's still refreshing to see innovative ideas.

Check out our gallery of photos from Fleethorse or watch a CG video of the Naturcar here.

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