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Streamline Your Gas Guzzler to 1.5 Liters
The German 'Low Resistance Mobile' Loremo reconciles car lovers and tree huggers
Alexander Krabbe (AlexKrabbe)     Print Article 
Published 2007-04-02 10:57 (KST)   
©2007 Loremo Co.
This rail journey is anything but comfortable. While the train rocks its passengers through the night, sleep is a kingdom hard to conquer.

No doubt it would have been more comfortable and even cheaper to use the car for this visit to Munich, Germany. Anyway, with two hearts beating in this author's chest, the tree hugger's organ finally triumphed over the car lover's one: The U.N. Climate Panel, polar bears dying out, global warming, and in the background, echoes of Al Gore's authoritative voice on our responsibility for the coming generations (you know what I mean).

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One minor sidestep into the past -- through the halls of Munich's university, where the national heroes Hans and Sophie Scholl distributed their anti-Hitler regime leaflets that brought both to the guillotine -- then I am on my way to where the future emerges on the horizon. It's the birthplace of a car that will consume 1.5 to 2 liters per 100 kilometers (155 MPG) when it hits the road in late 2009.

Initially the future is hard to be found, lying hidden in an inconspicuous business complex, a convoluted building housing various companies. However, soon after a personal introduction at the reception of the Loremo AG one of the visionaries of the present welcomes the visitor with a frank handshake. His name is Axel Schmidtke, a specialist in venture capitalism who worked for 10 years at Merrill Lynch before becoming the chief finance officer at Loremo AG.

In the company's conference room, a small man with a winning smile all over his friendly face is waiting to present his revolutionary concept: The Loremo, short for Low Resistance Mobile.

Uli Sommer is an engineer who for over nine years has developed components for the automotive industry and looks even younger in person than on TV, despite his 41 years of age. He has been working on the concept of an energy efficient car since 1993. Against all laws of the horsepower-fixated car industry, Sommer persistently followed his concept of a car that would reconcile the saving of resources with what made him become a car engineer: The love for driving a really good car.

It seems he finally reached his aim. "We understand a car as an object of identification for its driver," explains Sommer, which puts him far from those who would convert all highways into bike paths if they could. But he also cites a Shell study from 2004 which came to the conclusion that the oil peak had already been reached in 2000 and that no concept but energy efficiency could lead us though an age of diminishing fossil energy resources. Even the Bush administration seems to be beginning to recognize reality, while Sommer already is demonstrating how sexy energy saving can be. His Loremo is far from being a "wimp's car," as such progressive vehicles are being labeled by SUV drivers. What I shall later become an eyewitness of is an ultra-hot sports car that demands to be driven.

Technical Leadership

Range of the Loremo
Sommer's Loremo comes up with an incredible air resistance of only 0.22 square meters, which out-competes every other car on the market. With a weight of 450 kilograms (990 pounds), it reaches a maximum speed of 160 km (96 miles)/hour with the help of just a tiny 20 PS motor. During the Geneva Auto Show Sommer's Loremo consequentially earned unequivocal praise from the motor press. All in all, Loremo is not a concept car which was developed only to disappear in the annals of automobile history. The city of Dorsten in North Rhine-Westphalia has already been marked out as a place for the manufacturing of the first 8,000 Loremos.

In order to realize their vision, Sommer and his colleagues completely concentrated their work on the car's body, enabling the engineers to implement every thinkable motor concept. For the time being a turbo-diesel motor will power the Loremo for this September's Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA).

Reduction to Maximize Efficiency

While other established car producers saw themselves in a "competition of implementing unnecessary extra equipment," says Sommer, "we decided to focus on what really makes driving a car fun." Nevertheless, the Loremo will be equipped with all safety standards, including airbags, an electronic stabilization program, an anti-lock braking system (ABS).

The driver doesn't need to forgo the pleasure of air conditioning, an on-board PC and an MP3 compatible radio. These components will be integrated parts of the car's basic version. With an acceleration from zero to 100 km/h in 19 seconds, the five-gear Loremo stands in a line with most of its competitors in the small cars segment. A more powerful version will also be offered, dropping the acceleration time to nine seconds. The Loremo's measures will amount about 384 cm x 136 cm x 110 cm.

A Loremo will be most comfortable for two persons, but may also be used to transport two more people who have no problem with riding backwards all the time, since aerodynamic requirements demand back-to-back seating.

Safety First

The mindful reader will surely question whether a 450-kilogram car could ever be safe. This author did. And he remained skeptical until watching a crash test simulation [video] which represents a standard within the automotive industry.

Due to Sommer's patented invention of the so-called "Linear Cell Structure," the Loremo offers a maximum of safety within its car segment. "Imagine a nail being reamed into a wall. If the nail is hit straight, then it will penetrate the wall without greater torsion," says Sommer of the structure's benefits.

In contrast to conventional cars, stable brackets protect the Loremo driver's cabin from all sides. By abandoning the principle of the conventional lateral entrance and instead choosing a mechanically controlled entrance from above, the Loremo's Linear Cell Structure is at no point intercepted.

Due to the Bernoulli principle, the Loremo stands out with an eminent road adherence, the way a sports car should.

How much would one pay for a car like this? The answer to this question is given by Axel Schmidtke. According to the company's calculations the Loremo will cost about 궗11,000 (US$14,659), a moderate price for a car with a range of 1,300 kilometers. This actually means traveling from the U.S. west coast to the country's east cost by refueling the car only twice (see image). The low selling price for the car is, says Schmidtke, one of the central aims of the Loremo AG.

Having a Seat in the Future

Pforzheim, half an hour by train from the city of Stuttgart -- in a design studio run by the inventor of the SMART car, professor Johann Thomforde. The author is again experiencing a warm welcome, this time from Mr. Braemer, a young car designer. The design and innovations company he is working for enjoys a high reputation among the automotive industry.

In the past "hymer idc GMBH" was responsible for the design of the most successful vans on the German market. Mr. Braemer allows me to have a seat in the prototype which was revealed during the Geneva Auto Show. I'm overwhelmed. No need to explain the Loremo's emotive exterior.

Embraced by a comfortable bucket seat, I can imagine driving this car, driving it without being plagued by a bad conscience anymore. To be honest, I don't really want to leave the car, but instead liked to start its engines. Bad luck though; no engine has yet been installed. And so I leave the Loremo with the deep hope that it will soon populate the roads across the globe.

Sooner or Later Loremo-like Cars Must Dominate the Roads

At the end of the day the Loremo AG is a small company which could be afflicted by unforeseen difficulties that hinder the car's planned release in 2009. A hostile takeover by a financially powerful automobile company could be one scenario that results in the Loremo concept disappearing into a locked safe. But with oil prices on the other hand constantly rising, there seems to be no real alternative to Uli Sommer's concept of a fuel efficient car.

Recently delegations from Asia, namely Chinese scouts, have visited the company's headquarter in Munich to learn more about the revolutionary car concept. No wonder, since 2 billion citizens from India and China demand their right to own a car. These citizens' dreams of mobility and other emerging markets can never be fulfilled by a flood of SUVs. Should anyone smash Uli Sommer's revolution to pieces -- his idea has already spread and will conquer the road, hopefully sooner rather than later.
You can watch video of the Loremo at YouTube. Just search for the term LOREMO. There is also a "making of" sequence among the videos.

Official website: www.loremo.com
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Alexander Krabbe

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