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Rinspeed UC (photos)

Custom carmaker Rinspeed usually presents some stunning and impractical new concept at the 2010 Geneva auto show, but this year is a little different. The Rinspeed UC is a sensible electric car, and may point the way to our future transportation.

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Wayne Cunningham
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The UC is the least radical concept shown at Geneva by Rinspeed. This small electric city car looks similar to other city designs. As an electric vehicle, it gets only 96 pound-feet of torque from its motor, with about 65 miles of range from its battery.
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Part of the UC concept are special train cars for longer trips than the car's own 65 miles range. Rinspeed designed the UC with a special loading system, so it can easily be parked on a rail transporter and the driver can go off and enjoy the restaurant car.
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The wheels, specially designed for the UC by AEZ, use light alloys to make them as light as possible, essential for the electric car's performance. Rinspeed also opted for Pirelli's P7 Cinturato tires, which use more environmentally friendly processes in their manufacture than most tires.
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Harman designed the electronics for the cabin. The car relies on a cellular data connection so drivers who wish to go on long trips can check real transporter schedules and make reservations. Harman also fits the car with a Harman Kardon audio system.
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Lacking a steering wheel, the driver uses a joystick to control the car. Although joystick driving concepts have been problematic in the past, Rinspeed says the UC's joystick was built using force feedback technology, preventing drivers from twitching to the left or right.
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Having the drive controls and instruments center-mounted means the car can work equally well in left- or right-hand drive countries.
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The main menu for the Harman cabin electronics shows icons for phone, navigation, music, and messaging.

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