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Zoleco is a home-built 151 mpg concept car


November 29, 2011

Zoleco's lightweight body and drag reduction design offers a claimed 82 percent reduction in fuel consumption (image: Zoleco)

Zoleco's lightweight body and drag reduction design offers a claimed 82 percent reduction in fuel consumption (image: Zoleco)

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Canadian Zoltan Bod is a self-proclaimed "car and performance nut" who has built his very own, very efficient, 151 mpg (1.56 L/100 km) concept car. Dubbed Zoleco (which merges part of Bod's name with the word "eco"), it is designed with ergonomic considerations and seats up to four passengers comfortably. It also features a teardrop body shape and a three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine, along with thermal and braking energy recovery technologies, that conserve as much energy as possible. The result is a sporty and eco-friendly car that we're told is fun to drive.

Bod's passion for mechanics started at the age of 14, when he built his first three-wheeled go-kart for scooting around the farm. At 18 he began a three-year project to create a radical custom hot rod pickup out of a 1950 A40 Austin, which won first place in 1979 at the Pacific National Exhibition car show. Since then, Bod has been dedicated to his love of speed and mechanics, and has been involved with many automotive restorations. "Now I reached a point in my life where I am compelled to focus all my experience into creating a car that is exciting to look at and to drive," he says. "All the while knowing that the energy management abilities that it possesses are helping to point the way to a sustainable future."

According to Bod, the Zoleco's lightweight body and drag reduction design offers an 82 percent reduction in fuel consumption over your typical small car with the same engine. "All indications are that the Zoleco will require 8.2 hp to maintain 65 mph [104 km/h]," says Bod. "Taking a look at it from a Bonneville Salt Flat perspective, indications are that the 80hp available with the baseline engine could feasibly push the Zoleco to just over 145 mph [233 km/h] with minimal wind noise."

Bod is currently fine-tuning the current technologies of the prototype, whilst also looking into creating an advanced cylinder head configuration. This is all with the hope of building "production cars that will surpass the original proof of concept's energy conserving achievements" he says.

In the meantime, he is also considering the possibility of selling a homebuilt kit for those that want a hands-on and cost-effective way of acquiring their very own Zoleco.

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

Hurray for Zoltan. Great Work. The World needs more people like you...Ignore the dreamstealers and go for it.

Steve Peters

It\'s interesting, and not un-pretty, but I seriously doubt that it fits the definition of \"car\" when talking about collision protection, crumple zones, etc. - all those things that are required of a car and which force at least some of the shape out of the pretty aerodynamics that the engineers want. . .


Very \"retro-chic!\"

Chuck Anziulewicz

Thank you Gizmag for running this Zoleco article!

In reply to socalboomer.....during the entire idea and design phase of this venture my mind has tried to be aware of the scope and complexities involved in building a car.The result is a car that seats four,is aerodynamically shaped...and will have built in crush zones tied into the full perimeter(caged)space frame.The intention is to offer crash servivability for the passengers so they can carry on enjoying their eco exotic sports car.

Zoltan Bod

in most states This is not a \"car\" it would be a \"Motorcycle\" Thus Requireing a Motorcycle License and Helmet. But still id drive it.

Matt Walsh-Sarnecki

This makes an Aptera look like an albatross !!!

A T-Rex is enclosed with a roll-cage and does not require a helmet in most locales however it may require a motorcycle license, or not.

So did Zoltan Bod enter the Progressive X-Prize?


I\'m guessing the \"fun\" part in driving it is trying to get it over speed humps.


sweet to see Zoltan reply to questions about his car here on Gizmag, I believe that is the second time that I have seen the creator of a product to post, how can I sign up for more info on this car Zoltan? what is the top speed and range?

Bill Bennett

Nice to see a decent car that suits a tight arse like me.

Be tight arse I don't mean "mean spirited" - I mean I rather get the most efficient use out of a resource, than to be wasteful.

A 1.5 liter per 100K fuel consumption, compared to an average ???? sedan getting say 10 - 15 liters per 100K - it means that someone is thinking right, while the rest of the corporate stupids are turning out gas guzzling "me-tooism" boxes for the masses.

Kudos for significant smarts and thoughtful design.

Mr Stiffy

Canadian Eh? No surprise. Excellent design and specs - Nice Work!


Reminds me of first college car. 3 cylinder black Saab back in 1967. Doors opened in European old car \'backward\' style. Lawnmower principle of a can of oil per fill up. Got about 25 mph in Manhattan flats. Back of it had a lold down rear seat so could act like a station wagon for long painting stretchers. Real eye catcher.


If you want an automobile to get very good mpg it should be built with material that is very light such as fiber or alumin body and engine all the cars of today are very heavy starting with the engine they make airoplains out of sheet aluminion and the inside is construted with fiber.and for safty the first you need is cominsence and curtice for safty

John Mazza

Looks like a Geo Metro crossed with a last generation Pontiac Firebird front end - then swoopified. ;)

Gregg Eshelman

For your information-BombR76 the xprize competition was a motivating factor for me to put all the research I had done on efficiency in cars to good use. But with only my own funds and spare time I was no where near ready to enter.I paid close attention to all the competitors and I know I will have a superior car to the best of them.

Womp-regarding your speed bump issue.I dislike speed bumps therefore the car as seen at Gizmag has a ground clearance of 4 3/4 \" just behind the front tires(lowest spot) and 6 1/2 at central area of the front splitter.That being said really is redundant because the ride height will be variable from inside the car.

Bill Bennett-how would a range between 700 to 1200 miles sound? That would be with an 8 gal us tank.With the baseline 3cyl turbo 80 hp gasoline sipping engine my calculations indicate a top speed of 145mph.More info At zoleco.ca

Zoltan Bod

Hats off to you Zoltan (can\'t hurt to start with such a cool name), superb resolution of all the elements - mechanical, material, practical and aesthetic - tho\' not my choice of colour! Also, I like the public spirited attitude with the kit idea. The concept reminds me of a 3-wheeler car I saw in about 1993: a \'cold lay-up\' (laminated, resin-bonded wood veneers) tear-drop monocoque bodyshell, on a Citroen 2CV front drive, with one centre rear wheel on the 2CV trailing arm. Can\'t recall the claimed consumption (good, obviously) but it would cruise happily at 100mph - physically impossible in a 2CV, I imagine even in free-fall! The finish was several coats of yacht varnish - the owner/constructor was a boatbuilder.

Ben Grillet

The effort is to be applauded, but as regards 3-wheelers, nothing particularly new here. R.Q. Riley has been at the forefront of the high-mileage, low-cost, homebuilt vehicle field since the mid 1970\'s. Others, like the designers of the T-Rex previously mentioned have followed suit. You see many of their innovations in this design. But it never hurts for another to enter the market. Hope he\'s successful.

Neil Larkins

Reply to Neil Larkins-thanks for your applause! Regarding the three wheeled configuration...If you look closely my car has a dual wheel set-up in the rear for improved stability with 2 back seat occupants.I applaud R.Q. Riley for his efforts in the low cost homebuilt vehicle field.My creation on the otherhand won\'t be low cost unless it achieves mass production.When Paul Jaray started experimenting with automobile aerodynamics back in 1920 people had a tough time accepting the presence it created( they said it was weird).I hope to change that lack of acceptance! So here I am an automotive restorer/customizer handcrafting a vehicle configuration that up to NOW has not been practical.My dream is to invoke exotic car lovers of the world to embrace and support the eco exotic car movement.It is time that energy efficiency and conservation be the philosopy that we base our cars on.

Zoltan Bod

I agree entirely, Mr. Bod. We should have begun years ago looking at our vehicles in the light of efficiency and conservation. As to the 3-wheel/4-wheel thing, if the DOT (should you want to market it in the U.S.) believes the close-set dual wheel setup in the rear constitutes a single wheel, then your design could be classified as a motorcycle and stay much the same as it is now. If the determination is two wheels, everything changes, as you surely know. I realize this is a concept car and that as such the final design may bear little resemblance to it, but the addition of impact resistant bumpers and certain other safety mandated gear will add weight and affect aerodynamics. In addition, as a motorcycle the EPA environmental quality requirements are much less stringent than as a 4-wheeler. Might you be required to add such things as a catalytic converter and a vapor recovery system, the game changes even more -- especially so if the engine has not been previously approved by the EPA for use in a vehicle designed for use on the public highways. (Getting EPA sanction of a non-approved engine is extremely difficult.) Of course you know this as well. I do think, however, you will do well marketing it first as a kit since all the rules are different in that configuration. Almost none of the safety/environmental regs required for manufactured cars apply to kit cars. You can also use the kit car as a platform to improve the design. Other builders will find places for improvement (efficiency, cost, etc.) that you might not have seen. Thanks for your gracious attendance to our comments. Neil

Neil Larkins

YES! This is what I read Gizmag for, hoping to find something like this. I wanted a practical solution to private transportation which I have not found yet. I would buy the kit. I have only one suggestion. A smaller coup version is needed. And perhaps a tank which allows a 1000+ mile range.

Aptera dropped the ball. Good luck Zolton.


Reply to Neil Larkins-Good points Neil. The 3 wheel 4 wheel thing is something to check into.However as far as safety goes the car will have a crash energy absorbing structure right behind the front facia and the rear will have a simular structure built in to the chassis at the body surface therefore the shape and appearance of the car will not be affected.The doors will have the same design of energy absorbing crash bars within them tying the door hinge and latch points into the perimeter spaceframe.These structures are very light weight and strong just like the chassis.This car is being engineered as a racecar...I do not want people dying in this thing...so if one should decide to put in the appropriate powerplant to go 200mph at the salt flats..the odds of them serviving a serious incident are very good. No short cuts here you get the safety included what ever your intentions for the car.The engine/trans/front suspension are all dot and epa certified on the baseline model.Thanks for the questions it allows me to check my homework.

Zoltan Bod

Reply to vountaryist- I originally posted an article to Inhabitat....for what I am trying to do this is a great venue to get public attention from like minded people.Gizmag is great! I was considering running with an eight gallon fuel tank so that would give you a range of between 700 and 1200 miles depending on your cruise speed.The coupe would require a serious rethink...if the car was alot short for example the aerodynamic quality of the shape would be negatively affected aswell as crash impact absorbing qualities...something to think about.

Zoltan Bod

Definitely done your homework, Zoltan. Good going. The safety of the people (and not just the car and its components) is priority #1. Smartcar was able to do it without use of a lot of crush space. A strong cage surrounding the passengers was their approach and obviously the DOT approved. Hope you meet your goals and you get this in the hands of those who want it. As you are doubtless aware, going from concept to production models on the road is a tortuous route full of potholes and landmines. The automotive market landscape is littered with the corpses of those who tried and didn\'t make it. Or made it and soon crashed and burned. The best of luck to you.

Neil Larkins

I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that took the time to comment on my car.....ZOLECO ! Please check my website..zoleco.ca for new developments. Exciting announcement coming next month............

Zoltan Bod

What a horribly misleading \"article\"- Bridget should be ashamed of herself. This car is nothing but a bondo plug on a Geo Metro chassis. All the \"specifications\" like the 151 mpg claim exist only in Zoltan\'s head, as the thing has never moved under it\'s own power, and plugging in likely stats into performance predicting software yields sub-100 mpg economy. Alls y\'alls have been HAD.

Frank Lee

@Frank Lee

Bah Humbug to you,too,sir- and Have a Very Merry Christmas!

He never says that the car has run yet- it\'s a CONCEPT CAR- as titled!

If you have issues with the author, contact her.

I have placed a vehicle article here on Gizmag- have you?

They are human and do make mistakes but they also process a lot of requests and CONCEPTS.

Do you attack every other CONCEPT put forth here on Gizmag?

Most of the IDEAS put forth here are only ideas with computer generated images- this one has over 1,500 man hours in it and is heading for the highway- BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

What have you built? What are you building? What will you ever build?

People like you are just barking little dogs looking to stir up trouble.

Do you work for Exxon or the Arabs? I use the term \"work\" loosely,of course.

At any rate, put up or shut up.

If you can do better- GO FOR IT!


I have built things- yes, to completion, and they work. But that is not relevant to Zoltan\'s claims and my refuting them IS IT. I haven\'t criticized EVERY concept, because every concept-maker is not out there making ridiculous performance claims based on nothing- not even sound, proven science. As to whether the Zoleco is heading for the highway, I\'ll believe it when I see it, and it will be a happy day for you because then I\'ll have to eat crow (I\'m not too worried). It appears the only progress Zoltan has made for several years now is a glittery turntable for it to sit on.

Frank Lee

Reply to comment by Frank Lee. I will be in touch with Bridget so that she can make any appropriate clarifications to prevent any further misunderstandings. The specification stated in the article of 151mpg is based on common researched data which is available to anyone should they care to look it up. One good source would be through EcoModder.com .This information when plugged into the mathematical formula gives the result claimed. I am a creative and optimistic person that just wants to apply these traits and actually get out and do something to make the world a better place.Should one have a differant mindset toward life and enter differant data points then of course the indicated results will vary.This prototype development process is long and arduous and the car is not a driveable unit at present,there is lots more to be done. Soon as the car is a driveable unit it will be thoroughly tested in a real world environment to varify the claims or establish new ones.

Zoltan Bod

Yes, anyone interested enough in this to look it up at Ecomodder should, because they will find the thread where we ran the numbers about 1 1/2 years ago (when the car was in exactly the same state of \"development\" as it is now) and your proposal did not ever realistically achieve even 100 mpg from the performance calculator as I stated previously. Evidently my memory is not as bad as yours and if stretching the truth is \"creativity\" well then yes I agree, you are quite creative. If in all your internet spam you\'d just come out and flatly state that nothing is done, nothing has been driven, nothing has been tested, and the performance claims are based on nothing but unicorns and pixie dust, I would leave you alone. Maybe.

Frank Lee

Frank you are mistaken for when we discussed the mileage prediction on Ecomodder I was estimating the mileage to be 91 mpg at 65mph.Your and my estimated results where very close and you were sort of agreeable at the time.If you check how the mileage differs with the speed at which you are testing you will find that at 45mph the performance calculator indicates that the car will get 151.7mpg and at 40mph it indicates it to be 173.9mpg. I am commited to this project as it is a lifes dream for me to build a car of this nature.It has been 4 years of my spare time for total of 1800 man hrs.so far.If it were to have been any quicker unfortuneately I would have had to have sold the farm so to speak.My time is much better spent working on the car than trying to appease you skepticism.So just sit back, relax and leave the work to me and before you know it I will bring this vehicle to fruition . Then we will know exactly how my philosophy of energy efficiency with performance and conservation stack up.

Zoltan Bod

The more you screw around, the worse you look. Now you have numbers and speeds all over the place and none of them match your original ridiculous claims AND none of them match the analysis we did at Ecomodder. I agree, your time would be better spent finishing the car, but it appears you are putting all your time and effort into spamming the entire internet with your nonsense. Can you detail for us what progress has been made since February 2010? Got pics?

Frank Lee

I highly approve Zoltan\'s work. The gasoline prices here exceed $4/gallon. I do not know if he will be successful in bringing this car to market but his efforts should at least serve as a wake-up call to car manufacturers that reducing the weight of the vehicle and improving its aerodynamics will insure an increased mpg. I took my 2003 Toyota Echo and made it more aerodynamic and now can drive on the highway with 50 mpg. It is much better than the original 37-39 mpg but my daughter says that it looks like my car was in an accident as Zoltan\'s skills far exceed those of my own. Best of luck, Zoltan.

Adrian Akau
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