Eight-Wheeled, 230 MPH Electric Car to Spawn a Bus

Japan's Keio University created the shocking Ellica, an electric supercar that could out-run some of the world's fastest exotics. Now for their next trick -- public transportation.

Ellica Electric Supercar to Spawn a Bus for Japan

The eight-wheeled Ellica electric supercar, created by researchers of Keio University in Japan, will reportedly spawn an electric shuttle bus. The Ellica can get from 0-60 in 4.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 230 miles per hour. The bus won't match those performance figures, but will adopt the Ellica's flat floor, low ride height and electric powerplant.Keio University

It resembles an early '70s Citroen sedan, recast for Blade Runner-era Los Angeles. But this Japanese-built electric oddity, dubbed Ellica by its developers at Keio University, will reportedly spawn something with a bit less techie-sex appeal -- a bus. The university announced a deal last week with Isuzu Motors Ltd, the Kanagawa prefectural government, among others, to develop a full-sized electric bus for Japan based on the eight-wheeled, 230-mph research project.

Dr. Hiroshi Shimizu, the university's professor of Environment and Information Studies built the Ellica (Electric Lithium-Ion Car) over two years in the mid-2000s with a team of engineering students, stunning gearheads with supercar-like performance figures -- 0-60 in 4.1 seconds and a top speed higher than a Ferrari Enzo's. Eight, in-wheel electric motors each provide the power equivalent of 80 hp. Those eight small wheels, instead of four large ones, allow for a lower floor and center of gravity.

Japanese technology web site Tech On reports the Ellica will form the basis for a new electric-bus prototype with a flat, low-height floor. Isuzu Motors will design the body and Toshiba will contribute a lithium ion secondary battery with a capacity of 120kW, providing enough juice to shuttle passengers -- both replicants and humans, presumably -- 93 miles, or 150km, on a charge (the travel distance of a typical shuttle bus in Japan is about 75 miles per day). Tokyo Electric Power Company will create a charging infrastructure for the new e-bus.

Dr. Shimizu says the price of the bus, battery included, will be equivalent to that of a diesel bus -- assuming 500 units produced, at a running cost of a tenth that of a diesel bus.

The partners plan to complete development by late 2010, with volume production in Kanagawa Prefecture scheduled for 2011. Japan's Ministry of the Environment kicked in $5.16 million for the project.