Pollution, congestion, high fuel prices, consumption of non-renewable resources and lack or uneven distribution of key public infrastructure are few of the bottlenecks that still remain prevalent in many megacities of the twenty first century. The primary focus of this project was to analyse trends, forecast future possibilities and alleviate some of key issues of future urban transportation through design and functional solutions. The initial phase of this project consisted of extensive research, ranging from the history of motoring and dawn of the electric vehicles to future forward concepts and alternative fuelling systems. Current trends and future possibilities of the personal mobility market were examined while existing production models were benchmarked against one another to analyse market opportunities. Brainstorming, ethnographic analysis, market exploration, ergonomic research and prototyping were some of the processes used to transform ideas and concepts to a digital model in order to demonstrate the final design.
The outcome of this project is a 2+2 subcompact citycar that can expand its physical form on demand, in order to accommodate for more passengers and provide extra storage space thus catering for different usage scenarios. Exterior features utilize a fabric outer skin to allow a flexible expansion, this also reduces the overall weight by eliminating pressed sheetmetal components. Similar fabrics are used to create pneumatic interior elements that adapt to the vehicle’s exterior changes and its occupant’s needs as the vehicle expands in a sliding motion.
The drive is autonomous and the mechanical steering wheel and its physical frontal linkages have been completely removed. An optional manual drive is available for the digital-drive architecture via a handheld wireless control. This control mode primarily serves as a backup to the autonomous drive but also provides manual drive pleasure for the driving enthusiasts. The IP cluster is eliminated by projecting data (speed, GPS, etc.) onto the inner surface of the windshield, similar to the existing HUDs. The front screen is also used for 3D projection of the infotainment during autonomous drive. The remaining center console elements are moved to the passenger side panels. The propulsion is achieved via in-wheel electric motors mounted on the omnidirectional wheels. the elimination of the ICE, steering wheel, front console and standard wheels maximizes interior space. When parked (autonomously) the XO Concept maintains a smaller footprint than most of twin-seater competitors with a contracted wheelbase of under 1000 mm while having the advantage of carrying up to 4 occupants or 850+ L of cargo in the expanded mode.