Göran Folkesson has been thinking
about vehicles for a long time. Cars are
overdimensioned for the supermarket
trips and other short errands we most often
use them for, and this fact has always
weighed heavily on his mind.
Although he had often toyed with
ideas for light-weight alternatives, a trip
to India in 2009 finally drove Folkesson
to action. Observing the countless auto
rickshaws in overcrowded streets, he recognized
the huge potential for a threewheeled
vehicle in an urban environment.
But instead of a dirty two-stroke motor,
he envisioned it running on clean, battery-supplied electric power.
That vision was the start of Clean
Motion, the company Folkesson founded
later on that year. Today Clean Motion
is perfecting the ZBee, an electric threewheeler
with room for three people and a
protected compartment for luggage.
If successful, the ZBee will have a
positive inf luence on the environment.
It accelerates quickly and maneuvers easily,
with up to three ZBees fitting into a
single parking space. Yet it produces no
noise or harmful emissions. With one or
two battery packs and a range of up to 70
km on a single charge, it requires little
maintenance and costs only a few cents
per kilometer of driving. In total, the ZBee uses just 7% of the
energy consumed by a standard car.
The key to the equation is, of course,
the ZBee’s low weight. The ZBee has a
light monocoque construction of sandwich
composite, based on fiberglass skins
and two types of Diab foam core. Clean
Motion has considered skins of carbon
fiber, which would reduce the weight by a
further 30%, but has decided to use fiberglass
in order to minimize the ZBee’s
Naturally, crash safety performance
has also influenced the choice and distribution
of materials. Divinycell Matrix
11-9 is used for the lowest weight wherever
possible, but Divinycell H100 is
used where a higher density is needed
for stress resistance, for example in the
back of the seat. In some ways, the ZBee
is dimensioned more for safety than it is
for driving, and specialized research has
been performed to optimize the composite
materials for impact tolerance.
Development of the ZBee continues,
especially when it comes to weight, which Clean Motion hopes to reduce by
another 20%. Other projects seek to refine
the cockpit environment or enhance
its weather protection, and young university
talents are often a part of the work.
Diab is closely involved as well, both in
further optimizing the use of Divinycell
and in producing kits to streamline ZBee
Meanwhile, the ZBee has made its
debut at the Future World Summit in
Abu Dhabi, and Göran Folkesson’s team
is hard at work preparing the road to
launch. Type approval and EU registration
are underway, and in May ten vehicles
will be delivered to communities
in Sweden for final testing. Thirty more
vehicles will follow at the end of the summer,
along with tooling investments for
production and release on a wider scale.
If all goes well, the ZBee will roll onto
urban streets in Q4 of this year.