Posted by: CS | March 31, 2011

Is that a cool hybrid, or what?

General Motors says that its new Mi-ray Concept, which debuts at this week’s Seoul Motor Show, pays tribute to the sports car heritage at Chevrolet. Specifically, GM points out that the Mi-ray is “small and open” like the 1963 Monza SS, and “light and purposeful” like the 1962 Corvair Super Spyder. …

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  1. The Mi-Ray is a interesting development. The Chevy Volt, GM's only hybrid automobile, like just about every other vehicle designed by GM in the last ten years, is a dud: an overweight, behemoth — almost two tons, drab both in performance and looks, with little advantage in economy over a regular mid-size sedan.The Mi-Ray, at least looks cool, an essential requirement in a competitive global market with more than a dozen major manufacturers. And with a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic body it must be light, little more, perhaps, than one third the mass of the Volt.The electric drive provides just 30 horsepower through the front wheels, which is perfectly adequate for tootling along a country road with the top down (if it has a top), and more than enough for urban use. Moreover, the combination of small motor and light body could ensure very decent miles per kilowatt hour.Where GM have gone sadly wrong is in placing a hefty gas engine in the back where you'd want to carry golf clubs and groceries, thus defeating the point of having an expensive light-weight body. Moreover, because the gas engine is designed to drive the rear wheels, the car has all the complications and disadvantages of a regular car — a weighty transmission, poor fuel efficiency and increased emissions due to continual variation in engine speed.Instead, what's needed in a vehicle of this type is a rather large lawn-mower engine of five to 10 horsepower, running intermittently to drive a generator that keeps the battery topped up. But at least it's good to see an American manufacturer learning to make beautiful cars again.


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