Arrow: A four-wheeled 'fighter jet' for the road (Q&A)

One of Charles Bombardier's many wild concept vehicle designs, the Arrow, could be powered by lithium-air batteries with a range of over 370 miles.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
3 min read
Charles Bombardier Arrow
Charles Bombardier's Arrow is a concept design for weekend escapes. Charles Bombardier

What if your main occupation was dreaming up fanciful, futuristic concept vehicles? If your name is Charles Bombardier, that's exactly what you do.

The scion of Canada's Bombardier, which manufactures planes and trains, Charles Bombardier recently showed off designs for his Arrow concept car, an electric two-seater that looks like a retro racing car.

It's designed with a torpedo-shaped body and "a cockpit that opens up like a fighter jet to reveal tandem seats."

Bombardier came up with the Arrow concept as a cool commuter vehicle that can also be used for weekend escapes.

A 30-kilowatt, liquid-cooled, double-sided synchronous motor in the rear would be powered by lithium-air batteries, which would have a range target of over 370 miles.

Based in Montreal, Quebec, Bombardier runs a concept vehicle design studio. He isn't focused on actually seeing his ideas realized, but he has dreamed up dozens of interesting concept designs. I was intrigued by his work and wanted to ask about his motivation. The following is a lightly edited transcript.

Q:What was the inspiration for the Arrow? Where do you get most of your ideas?
Bombardier: Recently, I went to visit an R&D shop in California which makes personal watercraft that also double as semi-submersibles. They inspired me to create the Arrow concept. I also plan to use their frame for a eventual prototype.

What concept vehicles are you most proud of among your creations, and why? How do you produce the artwork?
Bombardier: I really like all of them! I work with various designers from around the world to create my concepts and they use different methods to create all these fantastic images. Some use complex 3D rendering software, others draw by hand.

A dream job dreaming up future vehicles (pictures)

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You certainly have some unusual ideas, with stretching cars, motorized surfboards, and space scooters. Why did you want to purse ideas that may be seen as impractical?
Bombardier: I think it's always good to dream a little about the future, it helps you generate ideas that will lead to short and medium term innovations. It also serves to spark the imagination and inspire other people to think and create on their own.

Have any of your concepts been realized, as prototypes or production units?
Bombardier: I worked on my concept at BRP that where produced (Traxter XL, Ski-Doo Elite, Can-Am Spyder). On my own I built various prototypes (the ZEUS, the Sierra, the B4) but in the short term, I am not planning to produce any units, I prefer to focus on the creative part and sell and share my concepts to interested parties.

What's your relationship to Bombardier Inc. founder and snowmobile inventor Joseph-Armand Bombardier, and what kind of assembly line work did you do at age 16? What motivated you to go your own way in business?
Bombardier: J-A Bombardier was my grandfather. I never met him but being part of that family motivated me to work really hard all my life for Bombardier and BRP. My godfather is (Bombardier Inc. Chairman) Laurent Beaudoin so he also inspired me a lot to stay the course and work hard. On the assembly line, I was machining radiators and installed pop rivets on Ski-Doo snowmobile frames. I later worked as a night draftsmen in R&D for Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo, and Tekko, which became our ATV division.

Do you think EVs such as super-compact commuters are viable ideas?
Bombardier: I think they are -- the real challenge comes from legislation. If we decide to limit parts of our cities to these types of light vehicle they will have a fighting chance. Imagine dedicated zones where there is no emission, no noise, and where the roads are in perfect shape. It's a viable idea and we can set a target dates right now.

What's next on your drawing board?
Bombardier: Planes, trains, and automobiles, and lots of power sports!

Check out more of Bombardier's designs in the gallery above.