Swiss automaker Rinspeed will debut at the 2009 Geneva auto show an electric concept car that changes shape to conform to the number of passengers on board.
The iChange is a lightweight, 4,280mm (approximately 14 feet) EV sports car with a teardrop-like silhouette designed to maximize fuel efficiency for the single passenger. But with the push of a button, the sloped rear of the car pops up to accommodate two additional passengers, if needed.
The concept sports car forgoes doors, opting for a very ADA-unfriendly clamshell roof. Rinspeed is obviously assuming that in the future, women will no longer wear skirts.
Proving that efficient doesn't have to be boring, the iChange is equipped with three lithium ion batteries, producing a total of 150kW of power that propels the car from 0 to 100 kmh in 4.2 seconds and achieves a maximum speed of 220 kmh (about 136 mph). The car charges in 3 hours and has a maximum range of approximately 90 km.
The dual design poses an answer to the problem: most car trips are short, single-passenger commutes to work or the store, but consumers still want a car that can accommodate the occasional multiple-person or long drive.
Rinspeed explains that "as a result of the increased weight and no longer optimal aerodynamics, the energy consumption increases--but only for the time passengers are actually on board," but they don't say by how much. Without that data, it seems like a radial exercise to achieve more or less what the Tesla Roadster already does as a two-seater, and what the start-up's Model S sedan will probably do as a four-seater.
The Tesla Roadster uses a custom microprocessor-controlled lithium ion battery with 6,831 individual cells that produces 248 HP (185 kW) to achieve a straightline performance of 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds with a range of about 220 miles. The much-anticipated Tesla Model S sedan--set to debut in March--reportedly will have a range of approximately 160 miles.
Much of the efficiency seems to be in the details rather than in the design. Large solar panels on the car top and sides provide an environmentally friendly mode for charging the batteries and maintain an ambient temperature inside the car on hot days. The iChange's lightweight Harman/Kardon infotainment system is designed for minimal parasitic drain on the battery and can calculate the most fuel-efficient route.
(Via Green Car Congress)