EDAG extends Light Car concept with electric inner-city runaround
Here's one from this year's International Geneva Motor Show you may have overlooked. We first caught a whiff of EDAG's Light Car concept in the September of 2009, when the open source project was in preliminary development. At Geneva this year, EDAG unveiled the third member of what's fast becoming a full range of all-electric Light Cars: the EDAG Light Car - Sharing. Hmm. Let's call it the LC-S for short. A markedly different animal to the Light Cars before it, the LC-S is aimed at inner-city car hire fleets.
The needs of a car designed for such brief excursions have been identified by EDAG as being significantly different to your standard hire car, with a self-explanatory hire system being high among the priorities. As has been the case with the Light Car since its inception, illumination is central to the LC-S idea, but in this case LEDs integrated into gel pads (a departure from the OLEDs mooted in the original Light Car concept), are used to display the vehicle's availability.
A traffic light color system is used to let potential users know at a glance whether a given LC-S is available. Green means yep, red means nope, while yellow means I'm recharging. Light plays additional functional roles. Lasers integrated into the mirrors project a safety zone onto the ground, "ensuring that passengers can get in and out in safety". Ensuring is a strong word, but it would at least provide some degree of visual warning to other drivers in danger of invading the LC-S's personal space at critical times. And, when not being driven, the rear window of the car can be rented out as advertising space, though it isn't precisely clear what technology is employed to this end.
The LC-S is also designed to be uniquely iconic. "A car sharing vehicle must have the potential to act as a city's visiting card," said EDAG's head designer, Johannes Barckmann. "Consequently, top priority goes to a high recognition factor and iconic character." Clearly this, like the Hiriko, is being pitched very much at the city authority seeking to role out city-wide electric hire car fleets.
The visual design does not come at the expense of practicality. The LC-S' 1.9-meter (6.2-ft) height means passengers can get in without need of protective headgear. Shock absorption is instead reserved for the Technogel pads strategically located on the car's bumpers, providing a limited degree of damage-prevention in the event of a minor bump. Thought has been given to the inside, too. The are six seats to accommodate large families or groups of friends, the majority of which fold (the seats, not the friends) to make room for a weekly shop or bulky purchases.
The driving experience has been bared down to the absolute essentials: accelerator, brake, steering wheel and indicators. A single display incorporates a speedo, battery gauge and navigation info. This not only makes things as simple as possible for the user - it also reduces cost, and risk of damage, for the fleet owner. The Light Car - Sharing is apparently "designed to last for a good deal longer than 10 years." For this reason components are designed to be modular for ease of replacement.
And hopefully the LC-s will prove as easy to hire as it is to drive. Finding and booking an LC-S will all be done with the use of smartphones - to the point that the vehicle will be unlocked with a Bluetooth key.
In terms of its greenness, the EDAG envisage smart-grid technology will be employed to make charging as green as possible. Inductive charging at designated hire points will look for renewable energy availability when considering the optimal time to recharge.
EDAG has communicated much more about the LC-S concept than it has the specific technology that will ultimately comprise it. We're told there's a tubular steel base frame. We're told that are steerable electrically-powered axles. But in terms of what goes on under the hood, and the machine's speed, acceleration and range capabilities, we're still very much in the dark about EDAG's Light Car - Sharing.