Brazilian car maker Caio Strumiello is set to unveil a lightweight electric mini-car that can navigate through congestion in South America's largest city while powered by the sun. Ben Gruber reports.
Finding a parking spot in Sao Paulo can be a nightmare. But for car designer Caio Strumiello -- that nightmare has been an inspiration. This is Nanico, the smallest car in Brazil. These days parking is a breeze. (SOUNDBITE) NANICO CREATOR, CAIO STRUMIELLO, SAYING: "When it comes to parking regular cars are stuck looking for a free parking space while I park my car in between spaces. Inside Sao Paulo you have nothing better because there isn't any space, you cant travel at higher speeds, and yet you have cars that keep getting bigger because people believe that a big car gives you status." Strumiello says what big cars really give their owners is less money and a slower commute. Currently Nanico is gas powered - capable of more than 80 miles per gallon, a fraction of the fuel used in most conventional cars. But Strumiello and his partner Paulo Roberto Da Conceicao are going a step further, changing out Nanico's combustion engine for an electric motor that runs on solar powered batteries. (SOUNDBITE) NANICO TECHNOLOGY PARTNER, PAULO ROBERTO DA CONCEICAO, SAYING: "We are installing a motor that will technically have seven kilowatts of potential which is sufficient to travel at a speed of 70 kilometres per hour, which is the speed limit here greater Sao Paulo, and you will be able to charge it in six hours with solar batteries." The team plan to provide buyers of electric Nanico's with solar panels to charge the cars batteries. Strumiello plans to unveil their creation at a car show in Sao Paulo next month. He says his biggest challenge going forward will be persuading status and comfort conscious consumers to give up on their big cars. (SOUNDBITE) NANICO CREATOR, CAIO STRUMIELLO, SAYING: "Now what is important is people make themselves aware that we have to let go of this idea of extreme comfort in favour of society. This is what is difficult. If we can conquer this mentality it will make things better, much better." ...better for the environment and a possible solution to traffic congestion. Strumiello says he is confident that his tiny car is about to make a very big impact on the streets of his city.