The Rinspeed Micromax: Trend-Setting or Weird?

By · February 19, 2013

The electric Rinspeed Micromax

The electric Rinspeed Micromax

Electric cars currently don't match gas cars for range and top speed. So it was bound to happen that someone would design an EV using those limitations as assets, and a starting point. Here comes the Rinspeed Micromax: a car not designed for speed, or for long distance travel.

The Swiss concept car is not really for old people. For generations, car have been built for fun and relaxation, with bench seats and reclining seat backs, but the Rinspeed Microma is built for the new generation. Fun has changed. The Micromax has no seats.

The electric Rinspeed Micromax

The electric Rinspeed Micromax

Well, actually it has some kind of upright seats, where one stands more than sits. But that shouldn't be an issue for urban transportation. In Paris, New York, and elsewhere, millions of commuters everyday are already standing in trains or buses for their daily commute. It can be done just as easily in a car instead of a bus. If the commute is short, standing is fine. Even for the driver, controls for braking and accelerating can easily be hand-operated. The technology already exists for people with disabilities.


Rinspeed doesn't give any performance figures or range. Both these metrics are irrelevant here. There are planes or high speed trains for long trips, and what matters here is convenience and networking. There's a built-in coffee machine. It would be out of place in a car that's driven fast on a twisty road, but this Micromax is designed to stay the city and travel at low speeds. Networking is important too, and everyone inside gets a tablet computer with high speed wireless Internet. That makes it the perfect car for nerds who can't last a minute without being connected.

The electric Rinspeed Micromax

The electric Rinspeed Micromax

It would easy to think of this Rinspeed Micromax as something weird that looks more like a kitchen appliance than a car, yet somehow, there's something brilliant about it. It's very short with the same length as a Mini, and yet four people can get inside with much more luggage or stuff that could fit in a car. Its the perfect city car, maybe even more than the little Smart car because a whole family can use it.

Well, its look may need some time to gain acceptance. This thing is seven feet, four inches tall. It's the unexpected child of a bus and a Mini, and many people will find it downright ugly. But in the world's busiest cities, there could be a place for it, maybe even a strong need.

This vehicle was built by Esoro, a Swiss firm with more than 20 years experiences in building electric prototypes, but the design is by Swiss car visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht. Neither has what it takes to put the car in volume production but the Geneva motor show, where this concept will be unveiled, is a great place to find business partners.

When city planners and architects talk about the future in megacities, with tens of millions of people sharing a little surface, this could be the perfect vehicle. And best of all, it's probably not going to cost a fortune. This concept which is fully working uses a forklift drive system from Linde Material Handling. Many people will see the Rinspeed Micromax as the perfect vehicle for car sharing or taxis, but it could also make a nice personal transporter in a city.

Comments

· · 1 year ago

Actually, there's a lot to like here, Laurent. With that extensive headroom and super-low bottom door sill, this would be an ideal small bus for those who are wheelchair or walker bound. It's interesting that the actors in the video and publicity photos are all decidedly younger and vibrant. The most useful application for a vehicle like this, however, may be to transport much older and physically incapacitated people.

· · 1 year ago

But why oh why do they have to make it so ugly... It doesn't matter how smart a vehicle is if it doesn't appeal to people, and if young people are suppose to buy it this won't do.

· · 1 year ago

I generally agree, Andy, that we are in the middle of (and hopefully emerging from) an ugly car period. This one, which is basically a telephone both on wheels, might be a little harder to clean up than most.

But, yes, it does seem that small economy cars, in general, are purposely made to look as awkward as possible. Now that we're in the EV era, car designers feel compelled to make the electric ones more "distinctive," which is a coded word for even uglier.

· · 1 year ago

Looks a bit like that land-based cruiser from "Lost in Space" , where Penny, Judy, Will, Robot, and Dr. Smith got into all that trouble.

· · 1 year ago

Too funny, Bill.

"DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!!"

:-)

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