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Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The concept

The Pegasi is a small, urban two-seater car that runs on natural gas. It is designed to be driven in cities with natural-gas infrastructure where you can refuel directly from home or at public natural gas refuelling stations. The Pegasi would be able to run at 70 km/h and cover a distance of 100 km. It could refuel 10 times faster than an electric car and it would cost four times less than a gasoline vehicle to refuel.

The background

Natural gas currently costs less than 35 cents a litre and it's cleaner than gasoline. We can adapt the existing combustion engine to run on liquid propane (LP) or natural gas (NG), and some manufacturers already offer reliable engines that run on LP/NG. There are more than 14.8 million vehicles worldwide using natural gas.

Last summer, I asked a team of engineering students from the École de Technologie Supérieure to create a technical document that details how we could build a 'P0' prototype for the Pegasi. After the project description was delivered, I asked industrial designer Jan Bujnak to create a rendering of this new urban vehicle concept.

How it works

The Pegasi would be powered by a Subaru EH72 LP/NG engine. This is a proven model that delivers 25 horsepower. Another option would be to use a 40-hp model, the EH99. The transmission would be an automatic belt-driven Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) such as the ones found on Can-Am ATVs.

Natural gas, of course, requires more space to store than ordinary fuel. On the Pegasi, two 30-litre cylindrical tanks would be positioned under the side-by-side seats, making them easily accessible for refuelling or servicing and protected from possible front or rear impact.

At 3,600 psi, those tanks could provide about 3.5 hours of constant running time. Owners would be able to refuel from home by installing a Coltri MCH14 CNG compressor. Refuelling would take less than 45 minutes, which is still 10-times faster than charging an electric Smart Car with a fast charger.

The Pegasi would be built with a metal tubing frame. Its body parts could be made of injection molded plastic to reduce weight and cost. The first model could be launched with a closed habitat, and a convertible model could be introduced a few years later.

What it's used for

The Pegasi is designed for driving around the city but not on highways. A team of student engineers worked more than 700 hours on this project and they delivered a 127-page evaluation and description. If you are interested in learning more about the Pegasi, you can contact me via Twitter @BombardierC.

The team

Marc-André L'Heureux, Éric Massouh, Alexandre Jodoin, Stécy Riendeau and Antoine Sutter created the Pegasi project description. Bujnak, who is based in Slovakia and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, designed the images. Bujnak also produced the look of the Arrakis concept, the Night Car and the Otobuxi.

Charles Bombardier is a member of the family that owns Quebec-based Bombardier Inc., and Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), which are in the business of designing and manufacturing vehicles.