None of us know what the future will look like. When we see ‘futuristic’ creations they look, of necessity, as though they don’t belong in the present time, and it takes great imagination to conceive of a world in which such objects would seem mundane – the world of the future. When it comes cars, the task of envisioning the future can be particularly taxing. Comparing a modern car with a 1950’s car we see that we have come along way, but cars in general must proceed into the future in small, publicly acceptable steps. Remember the great leap into the future by the Sinclair C5?
This week I came across two stories about future car designs that struck me as being on the cusp of the possible. The first was a BBC story about a new design of a small car by an F1 designer. Anyone who has seen a Smart Car, would be able to see this was not a million miles away from that. It looks cool and has been designed to use minimal resources in its manufacture. Perhaps more significantly was the Edison 2 winner of an X-Prize for the design of a production-capable 100 m.p.g. vehicle. (This is US Gallons so this more than 120 m.p.g in the UK!). What interested me most about the Edison 2 was its design concept: it is just very light. The car I own weighs over 1500 kg: the Edison 2 weighs in at less than 360 kg. Thus to achieve the same acceleration it needs an engine only one quarter the size of my car’s 1600 cc petrol engine, and in fact uses a 250 cc single cylinder motorbike engine. The lightness is the key, and the design genius is to keep four people safe in a light car at up to 100 m.p.h. I was impressed.
The vehicle certainly doesn’t look it belongs in the present, but is it the future? Who knows?