Design Concept of the Day: SAIC Roewe Mobiliant

December 4, 2013 § 1 Comment

saic_ns_112713_600Here’s the winner of the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge. Chinese firm SAIC Motor’s Roewe Mobiliant concept is a single-seater for urban public transport; it’s conceived to fit in a future urban ecological system and has been inspired by ants and their symbiotic relationship with trees, ‘cos the theme for this year’s Challenge was ‘Biomimicry & Mobility 2025 – Nature’s Answer to Human Challenges’. More on the Mobiliant here; low-down on the other entrants here. I like the Toyota e-grus – an electric ‘hyper-commuter’ inspired by the crane (bird); but the jumping, wearable SUBA-ROO is pure genius. BMW’s Designworks studio submitted two entries: BioMINIcry, bacteria-fuelled Mini submarines to swim autonomously down LA’s lost underground rivers, and the self-sustainable, energy-carrying S.E.E.D.; Mazda looked at the manual/autonomous dichotomy with Auto Adapt; Japan’s JAC Motor’s HEFEI (Harmonious Eco-Friendly Efficient Infrastructure) proposes a symbiotic mobility system whereby idle vehicles power the running in an automated, self-regulating network, supported by a smart-grid; and Qoros Auto also looked at a self-regulating, safe and sustainable control hub, its Silk Road System.  The Changfeng LaBrea ‘grasshopper’ is pushing it a bit, though…

  • OK, this government infrastructure plan… Includes over £1.9billion in road investment and 52 major road projects to deal with an expected 43% rise in traffic levels by 2040 (eek). Investment in nuclear power. Some (not enough) discussion of integrated transport and trains other than HS2. Includes digital telecomms as ‘infrastructure’ (rightly). £5million project to convert public-sector vehicle fleets to EVs; £10million for a city/town driverless cars pilot (more here). No mention of cycling/walking. All in all, the EV/driverless stuff looks like a token effort in an otherwise depressing document. (The EC Horizon 2020 – work programme 2014-15, “Smart, green and integrated transport”, see post below – is considerably more encouraging).
  • Also depressing: new report from RAC Foundation (Gomm & Wengraf), The Car and The Commute (England & Wales). 16.7million people rely on a car to get to work (only a tiny minority of which as passengers); 73.4% of rural workers commute by car; 67.1% of urban-dwellers; and even 29.8% of Londoners, for whom the car is still the most popular form of transport. Full modal breakdown/figures in report. Walking only 10.7% of to-work journeys, little changes in %s cycling, walking or home-working 2001-2011 (data from 2011 Census). Yet cost of driving/mobility rising, as well as mileage and congestion.
  • Volvo Cars is starting a large-scale autonomous car pilot project in and around Gothenburg. ‘Drive Me – Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility’ will involve 100 cars in everyday driving conditions on 50km of selected roads, and will look at the technological challenges and collect feedback from ‘real’ drivers. Scenarios such as leaving traffic flow, traffic queues and safe ‘harbours’ will be explored, as well as suitable traffic situations, infrastructure requirements, consumer confidence, interaction with other drivers and potential societal/economic benefits such as improved traffic efficiency and road safety. After development of a user interface and cloud functionality, plus customer research and further tech development, the first cars should hit the road in 2017. It’s a joint initiative between Volvo, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gothenburg.
  • First successful field trial of Nissan’s Vehicle-To-Building system – six Leafs connected to an office building contributed to a 2.5% energy use reduction and cost savings. The Leafs charge at off-peak times, with their batteries then feeding energy back to the building at peak. More here.
  • Saab 9-3 production has resumed, albeit of vehicles (for China) with the 2.ot turbo petrol engine; Saab’s new owners/holding company, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) promises that all-electric versions will follow next year. No ‘Griffin’ badge, though, reports Autocar.
  • And supercar-builder Steve Saleen says he’s going to make an EV. Top-end, high-tech, v. exclusive, no doubt. More here.
  • At the other end of the automotive scale, apparently 700-odd pre-orders have been taken for the Smart Fortwo-alike Colibri single-seater from Innovative Mobility (a 68-mile range, 0-60 in about ten seconds, top speed of 75mph and an 8,900-euro price tag plus 55 euros-a-month battery rental). More here.
  • On two wheels: the 200bhp Sacha Lakic (Venturi)-designed Voxan Wattman is claimed to be the world’s most powerful e-bike. More here.
  • And a Costa Rican cheapie/kit car: the CambYoCar, a mini-EV with sustainable balsa-wood body panels… More here. Actually quite a smart proposal for developing markets.

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§ One Response to Design Concept of the Day: SAIC Roewe Mobiliant

  • Really like this, but why, oh why, are we developing vehicles that will only carry one or two in urban areas? I have a bicycle for that job and its a lot quicker than travelling in a car size vehicle. Make these vehicles carry four please!

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