Made On Earth — Dolphin Car

Craft & Design


Remember the Geo Metro? Introduced in 1989, the vehicle’s been awarded more ridicule than anything else. And while the Geo brand is now defunct, EV enthusiast Dave Cloud of Woodinville, Wash., could earn the car some newfound recognition. He has created the Dolphin car, an electrified version of a 1997 Geo Metro with an overall fuel economy of 214mpge (miles per gallon equivalent).

“My goal was to build a vehicle that can go 200 miles on a single charge with a speed of 60 to 65 miles an hour for 85% of the miles, for under $3,000. I accomplished this goal,” acknowledges Cloud, who has completed more than 45 EV conversions.

The full conversion took about a year to complete. The Metro’s original fuel-sipping, front-wheel drivetrain was replaced by two 8-inch series-wound DC electric motors, one at each rear wheel. Each motor, individually controlled using a 72-volt, 400-amp controller, has its very own battery pack made up of 30 lead-acid, 12-volt cells. Cloud streamlined the body beyond recognition, and with the low drag of its slippery dolphin-inspired shell, the car tops out around 72mph. But at 3,200lbs, it’s sluggish right out of the gate, hitting 60mph in just under 20 seconds.

The Dolphin’s fuel economy is impressive, but the original Metro actually held its own. In fact, the car made a slight comeback in 2008 due to rising fuel costs. As a result, it was tested in the July 2009 issue of Car and Driver alongside the newly redesigned Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius. It tied with the Prius for overall fuel economy at 42mpg!

With gas prices continuing to push toward a national average of $5 a gallon, maybe the Geo Metro will make a comeback à la the Fiat 500. Unlike dolphins, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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