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Futuristic dune buggy capturing world's eye

It looks like something Scooby Doo might park in his driveway, but a futuristic dune buggy with a retro flair is capturing the attention of people around the world.

It looks like something Scooby Doo might park in his driveway, but a futuristic dune buggy with a retro flair is capturing the attention of people around the world.

The Chico touted as the first all electric fun sports car is being marketed globally from an office in Richmond.

Its named after the Californian city of Chico, which has the acclaim of being the states greenest city.

Only one of the funky vehicle exists, a prototype thats safely locked away in its Kelowna home, where it was invented by the Von Mynheer brothers.

But Von Mynheer Automotives Richmond-based vice-president of marketing and franchising, Mark Mansfield, said people will be able to get up close and personal with the wacky Chico when its unveiled at the sustainability EPIC Expo in Vancouver this weekend.

Its attracting major interest from around the world, said Mansfield, who was asked to join the Von Mynheer brothers when they realized the extent of the cars popularity.

Its creation was inspired by the dune buggy and the Australian Mini Moke, which is very popular in tourist destinations. Its retro, yet futuristic.

The demand from California for the car is increasing all the time and theres a major developer of golf carts down there that wants us to build a cart for the likes of all the Hollywood stars.

Theres really nothing like this on the market at all.

Among the suitors for the Chico which starts at $24,999 for the base model and a prototype van version are: An investment group in China, which has expressed interest in manufacturing and sell the car in China; the French Consulate; a Saudi businessman on behalf of an investor interested in obtaining an exclusive licence agreement to manufacture the vehicles for the seven oil producing countries in the Middle East.

More concrete is a major video game company, which has approached the company to produce 16 full race versions of the Chico for a racing video game to be shot this summer in 60 countries around the world.

Not a bad start for a product thats been more than two years in the making and isnt even on the market yet.

Were looking for another home in the Lower Mainland to meet the demand that were now getting, Mansfield said.

It has taken two and a half years of research and development to have a full running prototype.

A local Asian restaurateur is also currently preparing to build a 74,000 sq ft, 500-seat capacity restaurant in Surrey and has approached Von Mynheer to build a custom stretched fun sports car for 12 people that will be placed inside the restaurant taking patrons to their tables.

And without even advertising, Mansfield said the Chico has attracted enquiries from Asia, the Philippines, Australia, Dubai, South and Central America, California, the Caribbean and Hawaii.

For those of technical persuasion, Mansfield describes the car as a a new-age electric dune buggy wrapped in a high-tech body of composite materials mated to a state-of-the-art electric drive train.

The body is constructed of newly released, multi-ply coaxial composites that are rigid, very strong, and very light. The car is painted in new and custom water-based paints to adhere to stricter environmental regulations thus reducing the carbon footprint.

Von Mynheer has designed three models to choose from: the base model Bikinee to the Chico and its road race version, the Blast.

You can see the Chico at the EPIC Expo from May 11-13 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.