Saturday August 2, 2003Based on the Porsche 996 turbo, the Bedouin is the latest concept from Rinspeed Design, the Swiss company that introduced the Presto collapsible concept car in 2002. Described as an exercise in showcasing the untapped creative potential of multi-purpose vehicles, the all-wheel-drive Bedouin can automatically be transformed from a two-seater pick-up into a four-seater sports wagon in less than ten seconds.Premiering at the Geneva Motor Show this year, the Bedouin performs its transformation using two electric motors that drive jackscrews to lift the entire roof of the vehicle. The front part of the roof then folds and in effect becomes the tailgate window while the rear part of the roof turns into the cargo bed. The tailgate is also electrically powered and when lowered it extends the bed by another 45 centimetres and the entire process can be operated with a remote control.Powered by an environment-friendly twin-turbo engine running on natural gas - the fastest natural gas vehicle in the world according to Rinspeed - the four-valve Porsche engine produces 420 hp / 309 kW at 6,000 rpm and accelerates to 100 kmh in approximately 5.9 seconds. Top speed is mechanically limited to 250 kmh.Natural gas is an extremely clean-burning fuel that consists almost entirely of methane and contains almost no sulphur. Engines running on natural gas are also quieter than their conventional counterparts.The body is constructed from Pre-Preg composite - a state-of-the-art plastic is rarely used in automotive production that combines a low specific weight with high strength.Drivers can stay informed and passengers are entertained via the seven-inch colour LCD monitor that folds down from a recessed position in the roofliner. The Blaupunkt system displays the signal from the rearview camera for the driver or provides DVD viewing and gaming (using peripherals like Sony Playstation) for passengers.Other key aspects of the futuristic design include extensive use of a stainless-steel exhaust from Remus, 18-inch Continental SportContact 4x4-tires, progressive-rate Wandfluh steering, a height adjustable Eibach suspension system that enables the body of the Bedouin to sit 15 centimetres higher than that of the Porsche equivalent and custom-developed chrome-plated LED taillights that offer exceptionally fast reaction time.The interior retains much of its Porsche 996 heritage with custom-upholstery, laser-imprinted leather seats and a gearshift-lever grip made from solid crystal among the additions unique to the Bedouin.Swiss engineering company Esoro served as general contractor and Rinspeed also partnered with Gasverbund Mittelland (GVM) AG - the largest regional natural-gas company in Switzerland - on the Bedouin project.Creating cleaner, more efficient transport for the future is the primary goal of Rinspeed's work in multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) design. "From our point of view MPVs can contribute to the preservation of the world's resources since they're capable of taking on many of the specialized uses of second or third cars. And they can adapt to the specific transportation needs at hand within seconds" according to Frank M. Rinderknecht, C.E.O. of Rinspeed AG.
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