A specification for a passenger vehicle made of ultra-light materials, is aerodynamically streamlined (for low drag), and uses a hybrid-electric drive system. Regenerative design (such as in hybrid cars) is also implemented which converts normally wasted braking energy back into stored electricity. While any one of these characteristics alone can create improved efficiency, when all are combined, the resulting solution achieves a 3 to 5-fold improvement in fuel economy, along with comparable or improved safety, performance, and affordability, over conventional passenger vehicles.
While there are no hypercars currently in production, the concept is being tested and researched by most of the big automobile makers and many startup ventures. Many features of hypercars have been incorporated into advanced technology prototypes and show cars. Today’s hybrid gas/diesel-electric vehicles are considered to be stepping-stone implementations that could eventually evolve to full hypercar designs.
This term was invented, trademarked, and popularized by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute via Hypercar, Inc. The original prototype design was placed into the public domain and utilized a hydrogen fuel-cell hybrid electric drive system with advanced carbonfiber ultralight materials.
Hypercar designs are not limited to hydrogen-electric drive systems. Diesel-electric prototype designs are also emerging and competing for consideration in this arena.