The Brazilian-made Obvio! will either be the little green car that could or, as one blogger put it, just 'roadkill.'By Mac Margolis- Newsweek
Oct. 2, 2006 issue - When automotive enthusiast Ricardo Machado made his play for the U.S. car market last year, no one paid him much mind. Machado, a lawyer and real-estate broker in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was by his own admission a stranger to the global automobile industry. What's more, the vehicle he unveiled at a July custom-car fair in Los Angeles—a whimsical, hybrid-fuel three-seater called the Obvio!—had yet to hit the road in America, or anywhere else for that matter.
But in just a few weeks, the Obvio—which Machado's designers modeled after an old Brazilian buggy—started getting second looks. Maybe it was the green-and-tangerine finish, or the trendy Brazilian Havaiana flip-flops glued to the gas and brake pedals. The engine—built to burn gasoline, ethanol or even natural gas—surely helped. "We had to rope it off at the San Francisco auto show" last November, Machado says. It wasn't just idle gawking: by fall 2007, the first batch of a total of 50,000 Brazilian Obvios (some models fitted with electrical engines) will hit the United States. A separate deal to send another 100,000 to Japan and Europe is also in the works.