Power Plaza's Yebbujana R Concept: a Little Car with Big Potential

Written By: EightySix

Yebbujana R All-Electric Concept - 2015 Seoul Motor Show

The Seoul Motor Show is understandably dominated by Korea's Wonder Twins: Hyundai and Kia. But a number of lesser-known auto makers are putting unique vehicles into the spotlight, including Power Plaza.

Since 1993, Power Plaza has been building batteries and other components for electric vehicle builders. In 2010, they built the first Yebbujana for the Zero Race. Founded by Louis Palmer, the first person to drive around the globe with solar power, the race brings renewable energy awareness around the planet. The 2010 model had two seats, Lamborghini-style scissor doors, a 75 mile range and recharged the trunk-mounted lithium-ion polymer batteries in about five hours.

The Yebbujana has continued to evolve. The second version of the car set the Guinness World Record for longest electric open road drive on a single charge with 312 miles. The S3 added more personal comforts and began to look more like a possible production car. The 2013 Seoul Motor Show featured the S4, which had matured into a refined 2+2 hatchback with a 40 kWh battery.

Now it's a Roadster

The Yebbujana R is the latest open-top version. The name means "isn't she pretty" in Korean. She's certainly distinctive. The design was inspired by dolphins. The shape is just as slippery and streamlined with beady little head-lamps.

Yet it's no tiny toy. It can get from zero-to-sixty in 4.6 seconds and top out at 123 mph. It only weighs 1377 pounds. The range has improved to 355 miles. It won't bring the kids home from the grocery store, but it will take you to work or down the coast in a major hurry.

It carries the same 36 horse, 80 pound-foot electric motor as the Fiat 500e, yet the car weighs less than half as much. For increased safety, the motor runs at only 80 volts. The batteries are mounted in the floor for low center-of-mass and balanced handling.

Built Like No Other

The thinking behind its assembly is different from any major auto builder. Although it's not exactly a kit car, it could probably be built in an above-average garage by a person who could read instructions. The entire floor pan is one piece. The rest of the machine is modular and goes together step-by-step. The upper body is all lightweight, honeycomb carbon fiber. A bumper-height reinforced impact bar runs just under the skin all the way around the car.

A full-scale auto factory is hardly a requirement to build one. This concept could easily be purchased and carried out by a larger company. The consumer could customize engine size, battery capacity, interior features and body shape. Not only does the car perform and have range, but it's also simple to build.

Just Imagine...

The purpose of a concept car at an auto show is not to display what the future will be, but what it could be. Most concepts are too far out there and never see a showroom. The Yebbujana is too small to be appealing to many consumers.

But think about the idea being expanded perhaps 50%. The 2.9 meter roadster stretched to around 4.5 would be the length of a Honda Civic. With a little more battery and motor, you'd get a couple hundred miles of spunky driving. It would still hardly weigh a ton.

In February, Power Plaza and UQM joined forces to begin converting Seoul's 1-ton diesel cargo trucks to electricity. Consider that frame and power-train. As a cargo truck, a pick-up, a flat-bed or a van, it could move a lot of people and “cargo” with zero emissions.

"Experience the technology, feel the artistry" is the theme of the Seoul Show. Power Plaza certainly brought plenty of each with this bold and pretty concept.