Stories tagged city

Nov
06
2007

Fit five cars into one parking space

Smart "City Car": MIT Car by Mitchell Joachim
Smart "City Car": MIT Car by Mitchell Joachim
Coming soon are electric vehicles that will be stacked like grocery carts outside of popular destinations. A swipe of your credit card and you can drive it to another location. The body of the car will be made of lightweight composite material such as Kevlar or carbon fiber.

Embedded in each of its four wheels will be an electric motor, steering and braking mechanisms, suspension, and digital controls, all integrated into sealed units that can be snapped on and off. The Boston Globe.

These cars will be smart

These smart cars will be like computers on wheels. They can charge or give back electricity while stacked up waiting for users. They will know where parking is available and the best routes to their destination, avoiding traffic delays. I also predict that they will soon be able to drive themselves. (Read about the DARPA Urban Challenge)

Update: more Mitchell Joachim MIT car designs

Mitchell Joachim's archinode.com website has seven more vehicles vehicles like the one pictured. Click on each car for more information. One design has passengers drive while standing up.

Recommended links

Video demo of MIT stackable electric vehicles.
City Car presentation by The Boston Globe
MIT "Smart Cities" web page

Jul
31
2007

Think Global: photo: KnutBry/TinAgent/Think Technology
Think Global: photo: KnutBry/TinAgent/Think Technology
Think an electric car has a chance in todays market? In the 1990s General Motors spent nearly $1 billion on their EV1. Ford pumped about $150 million into an electric car known as "Think" but sold it 5 years later. As Think was in bankruptcy, Norwegian entrepreneur, Willums, picked up Think, its factory, and Ford's nearly completed design for a new-model "City" for the fire-sale price of about $15 million. His company, Think Global, has raised $60 million in funding to roll out a new and improved version of the City this fall.

$43 million battery deal with Tesla Motors

Willums, whos experience is in solar panels, went to a brainstorming session at the Googlplex in California. Google billionaires, Sergy Brin and Larry Page, had test driven earlier versions of the Think. They are also major investors of another electric car, the Tesla. Tesla will sell customized batteries to Think Global. The group also came up with these radical ideas:

  • Sell the car on the internet.
  • Never build a car before it's paid for.
  • No car showrooms or sales force.
  • Sell the car but lease the batteries.
  • Every car will be Internet and Wi-Fi enabled.
  • Components will be open sourced modules.
  • Assemble cars locally (no exporting).
  • Use the car's batteries to feed the electric grid during power shortages.
  • Car sharing companies like Zipcar and Flexcar allow trying before buying.

Batteries are separate.

By taking out the cost of the battery ($34,000) the "City" car will only cost from $15,000 - $17,000 in the United States. A "mobility fee" of $100 to $200 a month that might also include services like insurance and wireless Internet access seems to be part of the business plan. Managing a two way exchange of electricity with the electric grid is another possibility. Thousands of cars plugged into the electric grid could be tapped during energy demand spikes. PG&E plans to buy batteries that have outlived their usefulness for transportation but still retain capacity. The utility will install them in the basements of office towers and at electrical substations to store green energy produced by wind farms and solar arrays.

"Open source" modular assembly.

Willums car assembly plan resembles how Dell builds computers.

"He points to the black steel chassis of a City standing on a nearby pallet; it's shipped preassembled from Thailand. At one station, workers attach the car's aluminum frame -- made in Denmark -- and drop in a French motor. At another station, prefabricated rust-and dent-resistant polymer-plastic body panels produced in Turkey are hung on the frame of a nearly completed car."

Parts will be shipped for assembly near purchase points (like New York or California). The "Think" will do 70 mph and will have a range of 110 miles.

Update: "TH!NK GLOBAL" forum website link.

Source: CNNmoney.