The Geneva Motor Show constantly tosses up innovative automotive concepts and this year’s event is shaping-up to be no different. One example which we are certainly looking forward to seeing in the flesh is Rinspeed's retro take on the modern EV – the Rinspeed BamBoo. The company has released more pics and details ahead of the debut, so lets take a closer look at what's in store.

Developed in collaboration with Swiss engineering firms 4erC and Esoro’s, Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht‘s latest work has also been artistically enhanced by world-renowned pop artist James Rizzi.

At first glance (and even second and third glances) is not for the motoring introvert, but it doesn’t pretend to be. A hint is that it starts with a Swiss Army knife for a key.

This vehicle has been designed as a “free spirit’s” transporter, comfortable on the bitumen or the beach – as long as the temperature is warm. Rinspeed says the BamBoo offers “a taste of beach and sand, of the lightness and lightheartedness of southern latitudes. It is a reminiscence of the Seventies, of the south of France, of St. Tropez.”

Its colors, ranging from salmon to lobster and yellow, are supplied via adhesive-repair-specialist AkzoNobel’s “StickerFix” brand (a do-it-yourself solution for minor paint damage). But interesting innovations such as a communication display in place of a radiator grille and an inflatable roof that also serves as a beach blanket give it a definite beach-going edge.

Social engineering

Personal messages for the people in the vicinity of the car are displayed on the innovative “Identiface” within the car’s screen-based section. Developed by Daimler subsidiary MBtech in Stuttgart, it the radiator grille, which is mostly redundant on an electric vehicle. The Identiface can display the occupants’ Facebook pages, news, favorite photos, the manufacturer’s logo, etc.

On a more “serious” note, engineering services provided by Helveting and Zurich Versicherung have custom-developed the “BamBoo-Community” platform to offer additional practical features that focus on sustainability and optimal driving behavior.

“In combination with the famous color-changing ‘Rizzi bird’ on the rollover bar (green = I am single; blue = I am in party mood; orange = I need a break) it creates an entirely new automotive form of communication," says Rinspeed. "'Rizzi bird' instead of flipping the bird.”

Accentuating the bamboo theme, the Rizzi bird is woven with bamboo thread by Zurich weaver Weisbrod into the seating surfaces that are made from breathable high performance synthetic “Laif“ material. Both rear seats are inflatable and stored in two aluminum cases on the open cargo bed and also can be taken onto the beach. The dashboard – which resembles a giant breadbox – opens to reveal the control elements and the futuristic VDO display. The far right of the glove box houses a seven-inch HTC Flyer tablet with docking station.

Text-to-voice technology (and other cool sounds)

The Harman infotainment system delivers personalized, on-demand and interactive content to the Rinspeed BamBoo via Harman’s Aha Radio, which uses intuitive voice technologies and its patent-pending predictive search technology to bring social networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter, podcasts, Internet radio and enhanced location-based content into the car.

The Aha Radio translates text-based digital content to voice and plays it back within the car, making driving safer and more enjoyable, with minimal driver distraction.

You can even stream your adventures online using the car-mounted webcam. The Harman unit is also contains the BamBoo energy management system, with energy efficient routing and monitoring of power consumption to precisely calculate the BamBoo’s available range. A potential safety drawback with electric cars is their silent running. To counter this, the Harman HALOsonic™ ESS (Electronic Sound Synthesis) delivers tailored sound that, depending on speed and direction of motion, emits a driving-like noise to warn pedestrians of the approaching automobile. Inside the car, generated sound gives a sense of vehicle speed and acceleration.

As an added touch, this EV also has a foldable two-wheeler onboard for the last mile transport. The canopy-like inflatable roof developed by Swiss company Tecnotex is covered with water-resistant coating that protects the interior against possible morning dew – it almost seems too good to use to lie on the beach.


The BamBoo features a 54kW electric motor from the German Fräger Group that accelerates the 1,090 kg vehicle to a top speed of 120 km/h and can travel for an estimated 105 km before needing to recharge.

The lightweight steel chassis with horizontal shock absorbers carries a sturdy composite body combined with the use of polymer plastic materials.

The body sits on 17” AEZ three-spoke billet aluminum wheels with painted inserts and eco-friendly Goodyear “EfficientGrip” energy-saving tires.

Drive, baby, drive

The compact electric drive unit developed by the Fräger Group has already been used successfully in the compact car Stromos, which is manufactured by Frager’s sister company German E-Cars.

Inflatable seats and roof

Two inflatable chairs are stored in an aluminum suitcase in the rear of the BamBoo. They can be used in the car itself – secured with seatbelts – or on the beach. The weatherproof inflatable roof can quickly be removed by unfastening the clips, opening the air valve, folding and storing the roof onboard. It is also quickly inflated with an integrated blower.

The sustainable material used in the BamBoo is designed to cool passengers inside the vehicle without the use of any additional energy and while still offering weight-saving advantages. While only a concept vehicle, this modern take on the beach buggy has taken sustainability to heart and could be a great fun car to leave at holiday villa awaiting your next visit.

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