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Inflatable Car a Lot of Hot Air?

If you follow the green car industry, you probably know that the U.S. government loan program targeted at kickstarting the electric vehicle industry has been slammed with criticism because of the financial and production troubles at loan recipient Fisker Automotive. In addition to Fisker, the $8 billion in loans were dolled out to Tesla, Ford, Nissan, and the Vehicle Production Group, another company that has since tanked.

XP Vehicles too-good-to-be-true MUV Rover. Image: PC Magazine

But you may not have heard about the $675 million lawsuit filed by an inventor who says he was denied funding for his “inflatable electric car” company because he wasn’t politically tied to the Obama administration.

Inventor Scott Redmond, CEO of shuttered XP Vehicles of California, approached the Department of Energy for a $40 million loan to develop the vehicle in 2008. He is now pursuing two lawsuits against the government seeking damages.

However, Gizmodo writer Patrick George has done some digging into Redmond’s past, and found that not only does Redmond have a history of pulling together funding for dubious technology ventures, some of these companies (including his auto start-up) may have been vaporware operations.

XP’s SUV design (called the Mini-Utility Vehicle Rover, or MUV) would have been built from a flexible polymer foam material, resulting in a vehicle that weighed just 635 kilos (less than 1,400 pounds) and used battery technology designed by another Redmond company, Limnia. XP had previously touted a concept vehicle called the Whisper using the same inflatable foam that XP claimed could travel 4,000km on a single charge and survive an 8m fall off a cliff.

The MUV design could allegedly run 201km on a single charge, and travel on very skinny tires. What do you think?

Source: Gizmodo

About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@deskeng.com.