They called it “the car of the future”. Gray, the Californian inventor would utilize a new innovation which involves the use of ordinary car batteries to power an electromagnetic motor which would sustain its own energy supply while charging the batteries. Such technology would assure a long lasting power supply that would rarely need charging.
It had a three wheeler car profile, with the body and chassis made entirely from plastic. Such cars would have had several engineering feats and advantages over almost all the other car models back at that time. The efficiency of the EMA motors showed great promises of gradually replacing the less efficient, more polluting, internal combustion engines, putting an end to the world’s pollution problems.
Though the three wheeler profile, the car actually have 4 wheels. The front wheels were put close together that it looked like wheels from an aircraft. The back section also looked like a short set of wings with small jet engines at their ends. Such design led Paul Lewis to mane his new corporation “Highway Aircraft Corp”.
In plans to get this car in production, Gray promised the delivery of the EMA motor by March, 1974. The car would have hit the road shortly after.
Lewis was able to acquire strong footing in the market with a new futuristic car design after a long era of harassment by the auto and oil monopoly. He couldn’t have made it without the help of Gray’s EMA motor technology.
Even with a Renault engine, the happened to have a great advantage over other standard cars. Current automobile industries had no chance against such technology and the only way to stay alive is to be up to date with this technology. They had ferocious fights and struggling with the industry but they prevailed eventually.
Lewis’ three wheeler design, which was called the “Airmobile” looked fairly similar, in terms of specifications to the present Volkswagen beetle though he didn’t have any idea, what so ever, about Dr. Ferdinand Porsche’s German design. Lewis’ original model can be seen until now as it is on display at Harrah's auto Museum in Reno, Nevada.
Both cars used simple, single-unit designs to minimize the cost. Both had four-cylinder engines using horizontal opposed concept. As well as an independent, transaxle suspension system.
By the start of World War II, the Volkswagen beetle dominated the German automobile market, and soon after, the international market, killing the Airmobile project. Ironically, the success of the VW’s bug proved that Lewis’ original design would have made a great impact as well.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Postal Department drove the Airmobile out of business by the late 1930’s. They stood in his way when he wanted to sell stocks in his company, proclaiming they were investigating possible fraud in his work.
Even thought, the Airmobile drove through 26 states covering distances exceeding 45,000 miles, Lewis lost his project.
He actually started thinking of a steam engine that would exclude the boiler unit to fit in his new car. That was until he heard about Gray’s EMA motor. A prototype of this engine is on display at the Highway Aircraft Corp.
As soon as the Lewis and Gray’s project started, it seems very promising and everyone was almost sure it would keep America on the cutting edge of technology worldwide. At that time the project had a ridiculously expensive price tag on its head. The first prototype car constructed by Lewis cost him more than $200,000 and the first EMA motor almost neared a million dollars to finish.
Such price tag won’t be suitable for production, so they teamed up to enhance their work and reduce the construction cost for mass production. While current cars cost the public about $1/pound, it was estimated that “Fascination” would cost consumers about $2/pound, but it would also be two times lighter. The estimated price for their car would be $5,000.
To reason of it’s light weight attributed to the use of Royalex, which is is a composite material, comprising an outer layer of Vinyl and hard Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene plastic (ABS) and an inner layer of ABS foam. The layers are bonded by heat treatment. It’s also used for the manufacture of canoe hulls. Royalex is far lighter, more resistant to Ultraviolet sun damage and has greater structural memory than other plastics used for this purpose. The flipside to this is that you will pay more for Royalex than traditional roto-molded hulls.
Learning from his previous mistakes, Lewis hired two of the best engineers in the field of automobiles. He aimed to use them to make sure that his car would be practical and exceed the current safety standards.
Adding to that, Visioneering, Inc. kept its eyes on the progress on Fascination to make sure it does everything clamed by Lewis.
On the other hand, Gray hired an electronics engineering expert called Richard Hackenberger. He managed to get a practical EMA engine to work. The idea wasn’t to take current directly from batteries as we’d do under normal circumstances. In this case, the system will use the energy from the batteries to generate static charges which drives the system forward.
The current system was able to drive propel a car for more than 500 miles at high speeds on a single charge, even when using air conditioning, heating or radio. Furthermore, with more researches and development, it will be applicable to drive this car across the nation without recharging. And even a longer juicing duration of energy from the batteries when driving in towns.
The Engine would also be capable of running in any temperature, sustaining a cool status, not needing a cooling system or exhausts. Another advantage of this car is that it is noise free, as it’s almost silent when in operation.
As the ignition key turns on, the lights on the dash board will start glowing – it’s the Fascination’s version of a tachometer – as the engine’s rotor picks up speed with the help of a starter motor. This process only lasts few seconds and then you are ready to roll.
This system wasn’t a perpetual motion system as some would think. It just uses an electrostatic generation system that utilizes an extremely efficient capacitor system. Such system was based on one of the simplest laws of physics, which is Ohm’s law.
Farther development of the magnetic repulsion engine by Gray’s engineers led to the generation of a great deal of power, up to 100 brake horsepower, which is as powerful as any conventional internal combustion engine.
The reason they were working on finding propulsion system was the high inefficiency of internal combustion engines.