Automotive X PRIZE contender’s composites incorporate carbon nanotubes

The Velozzi SOLO reportedly will be the first vehicle to make use of carbon fiber nanotubes.

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Automaker Velozzi Inc. (Los Angeles, Calif.) has unveiled the SOLO, it’s composites-intensive hybrid-electric crossover vehicle and a contender for the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. Velozzi says the SOLO is the first vehicle to feature carbon nanotubes.

The Velozzi vehicles, says the manufacturer, will be the first production cars to use carbon fiber nanotubes, provided by Nanoledge (Boucherville, Quebec, Canada), which are said to increase mechanical properties of composite components by 40 percent. Most of the materials applied in the Velozzi cars construction are reusable, which is expected to decrease the Velozzi vehicle’s carbon footprint.

A plug-in hybrid, the Velozzi SOLO will be powered by a combination of lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors, which in turn, can be recharged either by an onboard multifuel, micro-turbine battery charger or, via standard electrical outlet, by tapping into the electrical grid. Fuels that can be burned by the Velozzi’s micro-turbine include gasoline, diesel, ethanol, methanol, butanol, bio-diesel and natural gas. The vehicle also will have the ability to reverse its polarity and serve as a power generator.

The SOLO, says the company, will hit the X PRIZE competition’s requisite 100 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent) yet also offer a top speed of 130 mph and very competitive highway on-ramp acceleration  (0 to 60 in just 6 seconds).

Notable composites-related vendors for the SOLO include not only Nanoledge, but resin supplier Ashland Inc. (Columbus, Ohio) and glass-fiber source PPG Industries (Cheswick, Pa.). Velozzi expects to start mass production of the SOLO by late 2011 or early 2012. Company founder Roberto Velozzi expects the SOLO’s retail price to come in under $40,000, and says the company is pursuing a smaller, more affordable hybrid hatchback model. For more information, visit