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Super-fast 'Superbus' could transform your commute

  • 155 mph electric vehicle shown in the Middle East for the first time
  • Superbus aims to transform public transport in the 21st century
  • Carries 23 passengers in comfort; developers looking to run pilot project in UAE

(CNN) -- With its gull-wing doors and 15-meter long (50 feet) chassis, the Superbus looks like the result of an amorous automotive liaison between a DeLorean and a stretch limo.

But rather than catering for champagne-quaffing party goers, its Dutch developers at the Delft University of Technology are aiming to transform the humble commute in the 21st century.

With a top speed of 155 mph (250 kph) and capable of carrying 23 passengers, the six-wheel Superbus attempts to marry the convenience and flexibility of traveling by car with the speed and comfort more often associated with rail journeys.

"The strength to the concept is that the Superbus can drive everywhere where a normal bus can drive. It has adjustable height, rear-wheel steering and a turning circle of roughly 10 meters," general manager of the project, Wubbo Ockels said.

The strength to the concept is that the Superbus can drive everywhere where a normal bus can drive
--Wubbo Ockels, project manager, Superbus

Furthermore, Ockels imagines a network of "super tracks" -- essentially dedicated two lane highways linking one city to another -- running alongside traditional road networks enabling the Superbus to switch between the two, depending on the destination of passengers.

A prototype of the electric vehicle recently went on show at the 2011 World Exhibition of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) in Dubai in the hope of attracting investment for development of a test infrastructure.

"At the moment we have a prototype. The next phase is an industrial prototype and the third level is the actual implementation," Ockels said.

He's hopeful that Dubai, with what he calls its "visions of sustainability" will give the green light to a pilot project.

So far, it's been a long and expensive road for Ockels and his team. The project started in 2004 and has cost around €13 million ($19 million) to date using technology developed in Formula One racing and the aerospace industry.

But a production model would be considerably cheaper, Ockels says, costing around €2 million ($2.9 million).


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