February 24, 2007

Cool New Car Ideas Part Two: Tilt and glide

I recently mentioned a Yahoo group devited to titling cars in the Gyro Car blog. Here are two examples. The first is Carver. This vehicle--shown from the rear in the shot on the left--has a power unit with two wheels at the rear plus a body for driver and one passenger. The front 'people module' has one wheel and is linked to the drive unit in a way that allows it to lean in corners.

This design offers great aerodynamic potential and an amazing driving experience if the cool videos on the web site are anything to go by. So, you get the design possibilities of a three wheeler with a lot less chance of tipping over.

Second up in this post is BMW's Clever, which looks a lot like the Carver. I'm not implying anything by this, and BMW has plenty of cred in the alternative [and less than 4 wheels] vehicle space, notably with the C1. It would seem that something both designs have in common is the ability to alter the power source/drive train fairly easily. In other words, the vehicle consists of two main parts: the driver/passenger module and the drive unit. These are connected by the tilting mechanism. As alternative fuels and more efficient motors come online, it would seem that this design is well-placed to implement them quickly.

What is not entirely clear from either the Carver or Clever sites is how you would go about buying one of these vehicles. I realize that there are huge hurdles between a working prototype and a street legal vehicle. Crash testing and emissions being the two big ones I would think. Does anyone know if there is a category of road vehicle equivalent to the experimental aircraft? That would seem to make sense at a time like this, when rapid improvement and innovation in vehicle design and efficiency could reap huge dividends for the environment and global politics, not to mention driving fun.

The last item for this post, the Loremo, looks more conventional, but is actually quite radical. It has four wheels, but is very light in weight. Together with excellent aerodynamics this yields over 100 miles per US gallon. The light weight is achieved with space age materials and a design that features no side doors. Apparently this results in much greater cabin strength at lower weight.

The driver and front passenger step into the car from the front. The entire dashboard and steering wheel lift up. The rear passengers enter at the rear through a large hatch-back. Check out the web site for more photos.

Again, not clear when you will be able to buy one, but if I was an oil-dependent sheik, I'd be worried that designs like these are well-advanced and threatening to cut gasoline consumption as they become street legal.

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