The German company Loremo (short for low-resistance mobile) released a turbodiesel sportscar at last September´s Frankfurt International Auto Show capable of a whopping 117 mpg and range of no less than 621 miles. They also plan on hybrid and electric models, and even one that runs on vegetable oil.

High-mileage-sportscar may sound like an oxymoron, and it’s a fair question to ask what was sacrificed to get 117 MPG out of this sleek, sporty-looking turbo-diesel, which is available in two models: a 2-cylinder LS and a 3-cylinder GT.

Besides the cool-looking flip-up lid and snazzy interior, Loremo’s real innovation (if the name was any hint) is based on two fuel economy fundamentals: substantially reducing weight and drag.

The Loremo’s construction is based on a steel linear cell structure: with a weight of only 95 kg the patented hull features three straight longitudinal struts and one centre cross strut. The steel struts of this clever construction principle provide the needed rigidity and safety and create a 600 mm deformation zone. Additionally the unique design enables the Loremo to reach an extremely low aerodynamic coefficient of 0.20.

But still: with all its safety and comfort features the Loremo weighs less than 600 kg [1323 lbs], which is less than half the weight of regular compact vehicles. That’s why it is so economic.

loremocarinsideAlthough 117 mpg makes the 76 mpg VW Beetle hack look a bit paltry, it’s based on the same principles. Remember that by using a spoiler to reduce the VW’s drag coefficient from about 0.38 to 0.28, Ernie Rogers increased his mileage between 5 and 8%. But the real key seems to be weight reduction.

Although it all sounds good on paper, there are two big questions to address when talking about small lightweight vehicle.

Safety and Power

Loremo would ask you to ponder how lightweight (1100 lbs) Formula 1 cars can keep a driver safe through crashes of over 155 mph. In Loremo’s manufacturing, longitudinal struts run the length of the car, leaving more “surviving space” in the event of head-on collision than comparable passenger cars. The Loremo also has an integrated roll-cage and 3 air-bags (front and sides) to protect passengers.

But will it have any power? I’d say yes, yes it will. I’ve personally spent a lot of time in 4 cylinder, 2.0 Liter diesels, and they don’t typically light up the tires. But add a turbocharger to the engine, drop 1,500 lbs, and make it aerodynamic, and you may be on to something. The 3-cylinder Loremo GT adds a bit more muscle, but drops fuel economy to about 78.5 mpg.

The 2-cyl L Loremo LS has a top speed of 100 mph (3-cyl GT 125 mph), and with one passenger will do 50 mpg up a 10% grade.

Cost and Availability

The Loremo’s debut at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt late last year means most of us haven’t heard about it, but it should be available in several countries in 2009.

If you were hoping for a U.S. model, don’t hold your breath. I’ll let Loremo explain:

We are quite surprised to see that the Loremo is being well accepted in the US. Due to the complicated and instable regulations we will not offer the Loremo for US markets upon launch in 2009. Should the success and the future market demand from US markets enable us to offer the Loremo we will certainly do so.

If it was available, the 2.0 L Loremo LS should be around $20,000 U.S.

Other Models

While either of the models can run on 100% biodiesel right off the assembly line, Loremo does have plans for plug-in hybrid and electric models, and may even build one designed to run on straight vegetable oil.

You’ve got to love German ingenuity.