New Isetta ~ iPhone On Wheels

 click on pictures to enlarge 
So many developments taking place in and around the car. Yet, our favorite mode of transport itself has not changed that much, not really if you think of it. Most of the times the car has grown quite a bit, and put on a lot of weight - best illustrated by BMW's version of the original British Mini, but also by VW's New Beetle and the New Fiat 500.

More than half a century ago the Mini caused a revolution. Every hatchback developed since has used the same layout. Now, faced with overlapping concerns with regard to fuel prices, growing traffic, emissions and climate change, you might conclude that the time has come to once again rethink the automobile. This can go both ways, serve two purposes. So much automotive research going on, scattered all over the EU. Why not have some sort of platform, to demonstrate new developments # a distinctive-looking 'next-generation' vehicle people can experience and actually drive, that can be showcased at exhibits and featured in the media? If you happen to agree, then you may want to read about the 'platform' suggested here.

#  Think of light-weighting (new materials), production techniques (C2C), propulsion (ICE as well as electric), vehicle dynamics, autonomous drive, connectivity, smart grid, car and ride sharing (Google invested 258 million USD in Uber!), public transport interfacing, traffic management, space-efficient use infrastructure, etc.

Ambitions are high: the semi three-wheeled 'New Isetta' described/depicted here, is meant to provide more
  • safety (cigar-shaped/seating layout)
  • energy efficiency (low drag/lightweight)
  • comfort (long wheelbase) as well as 
  • driving pleasure than any 'similar-sized' car. 
Its claims have already been confirmed by experts, albeit on paper. 

iSetta ~ iPhone On Wheels 
Like the Mini, the New Isetta is a concept that brings together many new elements. To be able to create a sleek shape whilst maintaining enough leeway, passengers don't sit next to each other. The configuration depicted here is the UK version's, with the driver seated to the left**. The old Romans already knew that arches make for a very stress-resistant construction. This in turn means that lighter materials can be used. The New Isetta has a Leonardo Da Vinci-inspired cigar-like frame underneath the outer panels and a dual-purpose rear cowling, covering the twin wheels and integrating a flush-mounted rear bumper - a safety feature too**.  It will carry three more safely, comfortably, economically than for instance a Renault Clio,  Opel (Vauxhall) Corsa, VW Polo can. Future space-efficient use (<click) of the infrastructure is a nice bonus. Click on Da Vinci's Vitruvian man for an 'eco-car' overview. Call it the automobile's last frontier: a four-wheeler that actually banks to counter centrifugal forces during cornering. Any vehicle that combines a narrow track with a long wheelbase needs to offset weight displacement***.

 Prototyping > Platforming > Production

Goal 1 Engineer / build a prototype (within the EU Green Car programs framework). Use 'New Isetta' as a platform for relevant new technology and expertise. 

Goal 2 'Put New Isetta on the map' as something that simply needs to be taken into production, as something people will avidly follow during the course of its development. Think social as well as traditional media incl. automotive press, OEMs (not necessarily car brands), investors, consumers, prospective users, rental and lease companies, etc. 

Goal 3 Have this iPhone On Wheels 'move' towards where most of today's focus and venture capital seem to gravitate. Bridge the gap between the conventional mode (i.e. by car) and the new media of personal mobility/connectivity.  

Think of the New Isetta as a clever 'new format' (<click). There is a reason why Fiat and VW came up with a New 500 and a New Beetle, and that Germany (BMW's Mini division) and Japan (Mazda MX5) made spiritual successors to the cars once considered iconic-British. New Isetta is an automotive 'format' that looks equally promising. In the 50's three German car companies each made their own version: the Isetta, the Messerschmitt and the Heinkel. Trendy must-have for the 'smart phone generation' (<click), distinctive design****, cost saving, handling, practicality and environmental consciousness -can- come together! 

Ralph Panhuyzen @
For a brief overview click>

*    ReThinking the Automobile (<click for an overview). As long as we cannot "beam me up, Scotty" from A to B, personal mobility will require a 'tangible transportation device'... On the other hand there is the challenge to prevent what Frost & Sullivan consultant David Frigstad calls the 'Kodak moment' (<click).
There is more to personal mobility and people connecting than having cars roll off the assembly line. Buying a car is the costliest purchase for most people. A car's 'fuel bill' proves to be even more costly than most households' energy bill. No wonder young people are losing interest (<click) in what used to 'move' whole generations before them. Why should they? Smart phones and social media turn out to be less expensive and more effective when it comes to 'reaching people'. What if the car itself would move a little bit closer to what the new media are offering? Be more cost- and time-efficient, less cumbersome, less self-serving, less of a burden to the environment, using less precious resources to begin with, and offering unique new selling points? A Tesla that tips the scale at well over two metric tons may not be the definitive answer, also from a 'traffic ergonomics' point of view. A vehicle in which the driver has a feel for its compact outer dimensions, as opposed to driving a 10 sq.m. behemoth, will feel more at ease when the auto-pilot is switched on. Car and ride sharing add a new dimension to car use. Researchers from the Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center estimate that one shared car removes between 9 and 13 cars from the vehicle population. Also interesting is what Hertz Corp. President Michel Taride has to say about the (click>) future of automobility

** The New Isetta's ram-like rear bumper will actually "use" (invade) the front crumple zone of the vehicle that will slam onto the SEV's rear end. Simply physics. Ever "stopped short" by a tree or traffic pole? 
Why have the driver seated to the left in countries like the U.K. and Japan? Here's why (see right picture). This means that in Europe and the U.S. the driver will be seated to the right.

*** A combination of a low center of gravity, control arms at the front changing the wheel geometry, forcing the New Isetta to lean - angle dependent on steering input (and speed) and G-force dependent active damping. Co-steering rear wheels operated at 40-50+ kph speeds may (also) be opted for. 

**** The very concept of the New Isetta challenges to do things differently - to increase efficiency, reduce costs, use new materials, etc. Supply chain and assembly may be streamlined, with suppliers even more in a co-maker role. Its front looks are kept 'neutral' so brands may envisage their own trademark frontal designs. Front and rear sections, containing the front and tail lights, can be swapped for easy repair, a partial makeover or to create a different brand look. This spiritual successor to the 1950's Isetta, which was originally German-made, has a lower 'skirted' half containing all hardware, which is easily accessible because of the curved upper half with its small roof section, very much like a chocolate Easter egg that consists of two halves.

Auctor intellectualis (and IP holder) was involved with the scientific study on car mobility  (ISBN-13: 978-90-442-0015-7) in the Netherlands (one of the most densely populated countries in the world) which was held under the auspices of the NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. The vehicle described here is the first truly holistically designed vehicle, in the sense that all aspects are interrelated. Change, take away, or think of using just one element, and it influences everything else. For instance, a narrow vehicle means that the traditional seating layout had to change. The low-drag tapered rear end means that the usual four-wheel platform had to go. The 'by-products'? Great comfort due to its long wheelbase, class-leading all-round visibility and passenger safety, and a vehicle that leans during cornering because of its particular (front)wheel track to wheelbase ratio. NB: this presentation is put together for assessment purposes only. The Space-Efficient Vehicle aka New Isetta is Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market registered! It is not an open source project. If in doubt about the semantics of what is "authorized" (literally: of, by or from the author) and what is not (presenting or using what has been created by someone else as if it were yours) consult a legal expert.

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