Design Concept of the Day: Beautiful Mobility

February 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

granstudio_beautiful mobilityInteresting new interview at Car Design News with Belgian-born Lowie Vermeersch, the former design director at Pininfarina now running his own Granstudio consultancy in Turin. Vermeersch stresses the need for looking beyond the business of simply styling cars,  and tells CDN that “designers need to anticipate the future… Carmakers will probably not be interested in all of our ideas. But other players will emerge within the field of mobility.” And:  “you can’t tackle the complex issues around mobility without multidisciplinary thinking. It’s about vehicles, cities, and mobile communication, and how they interact.”
This interview inspired me (cheers, CDN) to check out projects underway at Granstudio  – and these include one called Beautiful Mobility, which intends to make future  mobility enjoyable and pleasurable  in a co-operative, integrated system “where vehicles and people act, and above  all, communicate together”, according to the details on the studio’s website. This “must not deny the individual sense of freedom that is at the core of the existence of cars, but should have the capacity to liberate it again… Our key is that we do not just focus on designing a vehicle, but move towards a transversal experience of our mobility… While the industrial revolution brought us cars as objects, the digital revolution of connecting them into a beautiful system has only just begun”. This sketch illustrates the (very) early stages of such thinking, I guess. And a second – but no doubt related – Granstudio project recently started is ‘Study for Electric Vehicle’, development of a small, cheap and simple EV for suburban use.
  • BMW intends to turn a profit this year from its DriveNow car-share/short-term rental programme in partnership with Sixt, reports Detroit News. It’s to add a fifth location in Germany and its first elsewhere in Europe this year as well; 40 ActiveE electric 1-Series will go on fleet in Berlin with a further 20 in Munich. More on this, and Daimler’s expansion plans for Car2Go, here.
  • Better Place is winding down its battery-swap operations in North America and Australia, reports AutoWeek. No surprise there – given the way most EV drivers use their vehicles each day,  plus the advent of fast-chargers and improved  zap-up facilities both in and out of town, not to mention the cost/effort of installing the infrastructure and ensuring compatibility, what was the point? Always thought that this was an evolutionary dead-end, though battery-swapping does perhaps have its place for keeping buses/trucks etc moving in operations around a fixed base. Better Place will continue to focus its attentions on Denmark and Israel, where it has had some impact.
  • Meanwhile, finding a charging point just got easier for US drivers of Ford plug-in hybrids: their MyFord Mobile app incorporates the real-time open-source data from Plugshare.com. More here.
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