Helio Matahari, of The Pocket, is in the process of designing the ePod, an environmentally friendly vehicle he hopes will sell for as little as $2500.
Helio Matahari, of The Pocket, is in the process of designing the ePod, an environmentally friendly vehicle he hopes will sell for as little as $2500. Jacklyn Wagner

Inventor works on eco-vehicle

IT TRAVELS at speeds of up to 60km/h, has comfy seats, a kickin' stereo system and parks unobtrusively in the corner of your lounge room.

At least, that's Helio Matahari's plan.

Mr Matahari, an inventor, designer and film-maker from The Pocket, is creating a new vehicle he's calling the ePod, which will use a combination of solar, wind and plain old pedal-power to revolutionise motor transport.

He described the vehicle as combining an electric car, a mobility chair and an exercise bike - although the pedals are optional.

“It has two rear wheels and a single wheel at the front and it's designed for elderly people, as well as young people, to be able to get in and out of easily,” he said.

Mr Matahari said he was still trying to raise the $5000 he estimated he would need to build a working prototype but, once built, it would only weigh about 80kg.

The ePod would have solar panels over the cabin, be fitted with a wind turbine similar to an old-style weather-vane, and have batteries under the floor. He hopes to eventually sell them for as little as $2500 each.

Mr Matahari said the vehicle would use off-the-shelf 'bike level technology', which he hoped meant not having to worry about rego and a driving licence.

It is one of a growing number of pod-style three-wheel cars in development around the world, such as the Volkswagen L1 concept vehicle, unveiled at Frankfurt in September, and the Corbin Sparrow/NmG electric car.

However, the ePod takes the concept further, ditching the hybrid fuel system, the need to plug the vehicle into a wall, and hundreds of kilograms in weight.

It is that reduction in weight that made the ePod possible. Because it is so light it would be possible for the vehicle to run, albeit more slowly, on wind and solar power alone.

“On a two-tonne or one-tonne (vehicle) there's not much point putting solar or wind on it because the power output to input ratio is so great, but when it's light it's easy because you're not moving this mass about,” he said.

Mr Matahari is also bringing community involvement into the ePod's development. Through a community foundation, the Vortex Village Foundation, he has brought together a group of interested locals to brainstorm ideas on the concept.

The group meets Thursday mornings at the Byron Community and Cultural Centre.

If you are interested in joining the group or investing, call Mr Matahari on 0423 606 595.



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