March 4 - Croatian engineering company Dok-Ing has announced plans to start serial production of its electric three-seat microcar. The company believes urban commuters will find the vehicle ideal for low-cost, environmentally-friendly motoring. Jim Drury reports.
Croatian firm Dok-Ing hopes to lead the charge for the next generation of electric cars. Its' new three-seater - the Loox - is a departure from the company's core business - building robotic land-mine clearance systems. Dok-Ing owner Vjekoslav Majetic says it's the firm's expertise in mining precious metals that inspired the new venture. SOUNDBITE (Croatian) OWNER OF DOK-ING COMPANY, VJEKOSLAV MAJETIC, SAYING: "We have developed electric machines designed to operate in extremely difficult conditions for use in platinum and chrome mines in South Africa, for which we had to develop controllers, electromotors, battery control systems, power supplies, etc. And from that core business of ours, which had to be very stable and very secure, we simply took that knowledge and experience, and put it into a kind of a boyhood dream, to create a Croatian-made car." The Loox's chassis is made of hardened aluminium, while its body is composed of carbon fibre and kevlar, a high-strength synthetic material. And inside, Maketic says the dashboard layout features all the gadgets an urban commuter could want. (SOUNDBITE) (Croatian) CEO OF DOK-ING, VJEKOSLAV MAJETIC, SAYING: "The car is designed as a city vehicle, for people who can afford it and who drive on their own in city traffic, but so that they don't have a feeling of travelling inside some poorly equipped car." Powered by two magnet synchronous motors, the Loox is capable of reaching speeds of 100 kilometres per hour in just seven seconds. The company says it can travel 200 kilometres on a single charge. The car, composed entirely of Croatian-made parts, will be made to order, costing around 50,000 euros each. Dok-Ing hopes to go into production later this year.