February 17, 2009 Rinspeed is one automotive company that can only be described as forward-thinking and its radical concept car offerings have graced our pages on a regular basis over many years. More images and details have now emerged on the company's latest thought-provoking platform, the all-electric, shape-shifting „iChange“, which will make its debut at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show.
The „iChange“ (and no, that's not a punctuation error - it's written that way) returns to a theme covered in its Presto collapsible car a few years back, namely that most passenger cars represent a huge waste of space and efficiency because the additional seats are only used a small percentage of the time. To address this the electric-drive „iChange“ transforms from a streamlined, 1.03 meter high one-seater to a three-seater passenger vehicle at the press of a button.
The transformation is quite simple - push a button and the the rear end of the teardrop-shaped car pops up so that the two back seats can be utilized. This of course adversely effects the aerodynamics - and presumably weather protection - properties of the car, but its only used when passengers need to be transported. The rest of the time its an ultra-efficient one-seater.
Built by long-time Rinspeed partners, engineering-services company Esoro, the „iChange“ weighs just 1050 kilograms and is powered by a 150kW electric motor married to a 6-speed pre-selector transmission out of a Subaru WRX that can propel the car to 220 kmh with acceleration of 0 to 100 kmh (0-62mph) in just over four seconds.
The car's energy comes from lithium-ion batteries that are available in two different stack configurations for short- and long-distance driving.
Other notable highlights include custom-made lightweight 17” and 18” forged wheels with aerodynamic shrouds from AEZ, Pirelli P Zero tires in size 215/40-17 in front and size 245/40-18, an energy-efficient Harman/Kardon infotainment system and nav system with 3-D display.
The custom heating system from Eberspächer was developed to run on a nominal voltage of 580 volts and is suitable for short trips. On longer journeys there's a fuel-powered heater that runs on E-85 ethanol which puts no load on the vehicle’s electrical system.
Solar panels on the top and sides of the roof keep temperatures in the „iChange“ comfortably low on hot days by supplying power to a fan and also provide additional charge to the batteries.
Inside - and there are no doors so you'll have to go in Dukes of Hazard style - there's extensive use of pure wool, leather, a diamond-coated anti-slip floor supplied by abrasives specialist KGS and keys are dropped in favor of (what else) an Apple iPhone.
“The „iChange“ is a symbol for the fundamental changes the auto industry undergoes worldwide," says Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht. "And it is clear that only those companies will survive that have innovative answers for the demands of a new automotive era. The „iChange“ is a signal for the coming global changes to individual mobility. We need to be ready to meet these challenges with new ideas.”
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