I’ve always loved the Witkar. Pioneered in Holland, this 1970s heir to the Provo‘s free white bicycle program (being picked up in the recently announced and recently halted free bicycle program in Paris) offered pay-by-the-minute electric cars that could be picked up at the front of a charging station and returned to the rear of another charging station (like a luggage cart a the airport). Witkar, with its breakthrough in capital utilization, presaged today’s short-term rental services (FlexCar, CityCarShare, etc).
Now a team at MIT has raised the ante, with a design for city cars that are electric, smart, stackable and foldable!
Researchers at the MIT Media Lab envision a fleet of lightweight stackable electric cars that can help reduce congestion and urban energy waste….
With backing from General Motors Corp., they are building a prototype of a lightweight electric vehicle that can be cheaply mass-produced, rented by commuters under a shared-use business model, and folded and stacked like grocery carts at subway stations or other central sites….
And under the hood . . . well, there won’t be a hood on the City Car. Just an eggshell-shaped glass plate — part roof, part windshield — framing the modular cabin and stretching almost to the chassis.
“We’re removing as much hardware from the car as possible,” said Media Lab research assistant Ryan Chin , studio coordinator for City Cars…
In its place will be software that sets passenger preferences, changes the color of the cabin, controls the dashboard look and feel, and even directs drivers to parking spaces.
If you think that’s cool, wait til you see the “interactive graphics”.