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Open Source Car — 20 Year Lease, Free Fuel For Life

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the A-for-effort dept.

Transportation 319

ruphus13 writes "The race for a hyper-fuel-efficient car is on in a big way. Now, Riversimple has tried to leverage the knowledge of the masses to bring its vision to reality soon with a car that gives the equivalent of 300 miles to the gallon. 'The idea to build an open source car isn't a new one, but you've got to give vehicle design company Riversimple credit for originality. The company plans to unveil its first car in London later this month, a small two-seater that weighs roughly 700 pounds. If you agree to lease one for 20 years (yes, 20), Riversimple will throw in the cost of fuel for the lifetime of the lease...The team decided to release the car's designs under an open source license in order to speed up the time it takes to develop the vehicle while also driving down the cost of its components.'"

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319 comments

700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (4, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319079)

The company plans to unveil its first car in London later this month, a small two-seater that weighs roughly 700 pounds.

A car that will never sell anywhere in the US due to total inability to pass crash safety test. I'm actually surprised that it can be sold anywhere in the first world, to be honest.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319103)

The company plans to unveil its first car in London later this month, a small two-seater that weighs roughly 700 pounds.

A car that will never sell anywhere in the US due to total inability to pass crash safety test. I'm actually surprised that it can be sold anywhere in the first world, to be honest.

I don't see the point of very small cars like this. If I don't need to carry anything I will ride my bike. If I do then I use my big, inefficient van. A small car wouldn't be much use to me because it can't carry much.

Additionally I don't see how people can commit to lease a car like this for 20 years. Surely their lifestyle and requirements will change before then.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (4, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319121)

And what if you need to go a long distance without carrying anything, like the majority of people that have long commutes to work?

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (5, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319123)

I don't see the point of very small cars like this. If I don't need to carry anything I will ride my bike. If I do then I use my big, inefficient van. A small car wouldn't be much use to me because it can't carry much.

Yes, it certainly is a total piece of crap because it doesn't suit your lifestyle.

Many countries are full of tiny cars, where they serve as the primary (and inexpensive) vehicle for many people, some of who either can't afford a full-size car or are moving up from scooters and motorcycles. It might sound strange to you, but there are many countries where automobiles are not a religion, and paying a fixed lump sum a month to own a car is an attractive option. Plus, if you've ever seen the tiny winding streets of many European cities, you'll realize that this car isn't all that impractical in the right setting.

Of course, forget about it in the US, except maybe in Oregon.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319267)

"there are many countries where automobiles are not a religion" Sorry, I couldn't hear your reply over your snootyness. Cars are a necessity in the US. We have more room and things are much father spread out. Try getting around a typical western US city without a car.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319321)

No joke. I'm stuck at work right now because my car died. 10 Minute drive... 4 hour walk.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319363)

I call shenanigans on this. Australia has a population density of 2.6/sq. km. The USA has a population density of 31/sq. km. That means that the US is nearly 1200% more densely populated than Australia. With the exception of rural folk like farmers and miners (who need them), "Soccer Moms", and other types that have their heads filled with The American Dream, almost no-one drives American-style big cars here. Quite a few of my friends get around without cars at all - bikes, public transport, motorbikes/scooters, etc. Many of them own unnecessarily big houses, just because they're cheap, and yet they're doing fine getting around. I'm sorry that your automotive industry have ignored your needs and pushed a bunch of expensive and unnecessary cars on you, but please don't try and pretend America's natural geography somehow requires a car, much less the SUVs that are dominant. It's everything BUT geography at play here.

And before you start criticising me for taking your comment out of context, keep in mind that GRANDPARENT was discussing both cars and car sizes.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319439)

It's not so much the geography but the build-up that has been strongly influenced by the availability of the car and cheap fuel. People live in the sprawling suburbs and have to drive dozens of miles to work. The need for huge parking spaces spreads out the cities. It's no surprise that the drive-in is an American invention.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319563)

Australia has a population density of 2.6/sq. km. The USA has a population density of 31/sq. km.

True, the population of the United States is somewhat concentrated near the coasts, but not nearly to the same extent as in Australia (near the coasts) or Canada (near the southern border).

Quite a few of my friends get around without cars at all - bikes, public transport, motorbikes/scooters, etc.

How well does a bike work in the rain? And how well does public transport work at night, on Sundays, or on national holidays?

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (2, Interesting)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319655)

Or what about Canada? I live in Calgary, and we have sub-zero weather from October to April.

You ride your bike to work in the rain? You were lucky! I used to dream of riding a bike to work in the rain. It beats the hell out of trying to ride a bike to work in -25 C with driving snow and a wind-chill of -60 and exposed flesh freezes in 30 seconds.

Why did I move here?

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (4, Funny)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319755)

I'm suspecting you visited in the summer when it is suitable for human habitation. When things took a turn you got so cold you forgot your way home.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319737)

How well does a bike work in the rain?

Bikes work equally well in rain and in dry. What would you expect? They aren't made of rice-paper, you know, or stuck together with gum.

Drove over 800 miles in last three days (2, Interesting)

charnov (183495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319691)

I live in the US and we just went for a little trip from Indianapolis to Madison, Wisconsin. Round trip with side ventures and a little driving around Madison came to over 800 miles.

That's just a couple of neighboring states. I drive 30 minutes at 60 MPH to get to work and that is all within city limits. The suburbs and exurbs and much further away.

Re:Drove over 800 miles in last three days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319781)

Quote: I drive 30 minutes at 60 MPH to get to work and that is all within city limits.

Cars should be banned within city limits. This simple rule will save more lives than the last 30 years of cancer research. Cars are like cockroaches, getting rid of them in cities would be a blessing.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (3, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319825)

Cars are a necessity in the US. We have more room and things are much father spread out. Try getting around a typical western US city without a car.

That's not because you have more room. That's because public transportation sucks and has a social stigma.

You don't need a car in London, for example.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319517)

We usualy call those places third world countries.

Lets be practical here, when buying this car (leasing it) they are asking a first world country to lower it's standards to the lowest denominator. What next, no plumbing or electricity for a 20 year lease?

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (4, Insightful)

rubberchickenboy (1044950) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319589)

I live in Japan, one of those countries where small cars are prevalent. Kei cars aren't exactly 700 lbs. but the smallest are close. This country is decidedly not third world, last I checked.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319619)

In Massachusetts, the drivers would trap and skin the smaller vehicles, then wear the headlights on a necklace as we commute down the Pike each morning.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319891)

Many countries are full of tiny cars

Are they? Name one.

And while we're at it, can you clarify what tiny means? Compared to what?

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319489)

If I don't need to carry anything I will ride my bike.

To me that would me having to pass the Category A driving license and I have no intention at all to pay for driving lessons. Well, someday perhaps I will have money spare for such frivolities, but right now I can only drive cars.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319505)

Just a clarification.... When you said bike, I assumed a motorbike. If you meant the human powered version, disregard my comment.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

codewarren (927270) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319493)

I don't see the point of very small cars like this. If I don't need to carry anything I will ride my bike. If I do then I use my big, inefficient van. A small car wouldn't be much use to me because it can't carry much.

It doesn't rain where you live?

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (3, Funny)

tenco (773732) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319677)

There's no bad weather. Only inappropriate clothing.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319761)

The purpose of this car, is as a commuter vehicle, how many full sized cars are on the road, to drive 20 miles or more to work, with 1 person in it. It could also help with parking, at work, if everyone went in with one, as many of these vehicles can fit into half the parking space as is currently required.

Much bigger problem (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319173)

Take a look at the sketch: The front wheels are so small that the body scratches the tarmac!

Re:Much bigger problem (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319229)

Take a look at the sketch: The front wheels are so small that the body scratches the tarmac!

That isn't a problem, it is less likely to get blown off the road that way.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319203)

This vehicle would hardly be dangerous at all if we got rid of the rest of the 1 ton+ passenger vehicles.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (2, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319401)

This vehicle would hardly be dangerous at all if we got rid of the rest of the 1 ton+ passenger vehicles.

Considering that the Toyota Prius weighs in at 2,765lb-3042lb, that would be every other car on the road. Meaning your suggestion would be to replace all cars with this one.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (3, Insightful)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319227)

Introducing bigger cars into the market is a zero sum game for car safety, and a net safety loss for pedestrians.
This car would be safe enough without all those SUV's.

Time will tell, but as soon as oil prices are high enough, those kind of car will become a necessity, while SUV's will have to stay parked.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319523)

Fuel prices will never get that high. There is ample supplies of oil and just like the so called solutions of cap and trade, the people will just demand more pay to compensate for the extra costs.

Peak Oil has been passed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319707)

The smart people with money are saying that Peak Oil has been passed and that from now on, the production of oil will drop slowly over time.

That alone will cause the price to rise, never mind growing consumption from China/India. Heck, they might fall in love with those cars.

The cost of living in the USA is obscene. It can't be sustained.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319233)

The car is about the size of a Smart Fortwo. [smartusa.com] Why are you so sure it won't pass crash tests? [youtube.com]

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (3, Informative)

Drathos (1092) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319407)

The Smart ForTwo weighs over 2.5 times as much (1880 lbs.) in large part to the hardware required to pass those crash tests.

A 700 lb. car is going to get squashed like a bug in a crash with a vast majority of the vehicles on the road.

Motorcycles? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319579)

The Smart ForTwo weighs over 2.5 times as much (1880 lbs.) in large part to the hardware required to pass those crash tests.

How well do, for example, motorcycles pass crash tests?

Organ Donors (4, Insightful)

charnov (183495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319673)

The Smart ForTwo weighs over 2.5 times as much (1880 lbs.) in large part to the hardware required to pass those crash tests.

How well do, for example, motorcycles pass crash tests?

Motorcycles don't. You get into a wreck with another vehicle, you die. We refer to motorcycle riders as "organ donors" in the US.

Re:Motorcycles? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319933)

They don't. We motorcyclists just avoid the accidents in the first place. Without the comfort of a safety cage you tend to anticipate idiots, keep significant separation from traffic and always have an escape route. Conversely, if you do get into an accident there is little available to keep you safe. Helmets, riding pants, jackets, gloves and boots all help increase survivability of an incident, but I won't stand in the middle of an interstate with my gear on just to see how effective it is. The answer is (and always was) better driving, not safety requirements.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319583)

Even the Smart, while great for a little tiny car, doesn't fare too well in a realworld crash [youtube.com] .

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319837)

Did you watch that video ? It came out of the crash better than the S class. Didn't you know that small things have less mass, and so suffer less deceleration stress in impacts ? Not to mention the full body cage installed in the smart. It is good enough to score 4 stars on ncap [euroncap.com] which I believe is a better standard than the US version. And the smart version they tested was 2 years ago.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319345)

actually, the problem is that you (Americans) are not even capable of designing small cars.
that's what the fiat-crysler deal is for.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (4, Insightful)

mauriceh (3721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319449)

The paradox of this simply amazes me.

If it were a motorcyle there would be no trouble with selling it.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319541)

You mean there would be no trouble selling it to people who want to drive motorcycles and didn't care about style or performance.

Many people don't consider motorcycles safe enough to own one let alone drive it. The difference here is that it is being presented as a car and people are taking the same objections as they would have for motorcycles.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

mauriceh (3721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319801)

I agree,
however I was commenting on how safety standards prevent the sales of a small car, yet allow the sale of motorcyles and bicycles that use the same roads.

Depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319537)

Is it the NIH syndrome or why are people so antagonistic? Geeks should be all over this. It's an electric car, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The engine is a set of electric hub motors. It's open source! You could probably buy a kit and, instead of the fuel cell, use lithium-polymer batteries. Park the thing under a solar cell roof if you don't buy the hydrogen fuel cell hype. Geeks turn bicycles into electric bicycles with kits from eBay for a couple hundred dollars. Geeks build Segway clones from scratch. Geeks dis a light-weight electric car? (Captcha: doubter)

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319549)

Small Cars such as this can pass crash safety tests. The Smart car has, which was designed more like a 1960's car it's one solid body, it relies on another cars crumple zone.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319669)

...it relies on another cars crumple zone.

So what happens when two Smart Cars do a head-on?

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (3, Interesting)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319551)

I guess you'll find it isn't actually a car, but it is registered and taxed as a quad bike. A popular electric vehicle in London, the GWiz, is classed as a quad bike.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (2, Informative)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319615)

It builds on the green philosophy...

If enough people buy them and get squished by the rest of the people who are smart enough to understand density/weight/safty retios, then it will reduce the population by that amount that bought the little "smart" cars... Thus reducing green house gas emissions by reducing the volume of homosapien flatulence.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319689)

Mass isn't necessarily a requirement to ensure your safety; in Europe any car on the road has to pass NCAP crash tests, the cars with better crumple zones fare far better. A Land Rover 4x4 is more likely to hurt you in a crash than a Ford Fiesta.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

BenBop (772205) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319777)

A car that will never sell anywhere in the US due to total inability to pass crash safety test.

I'm not sure I agree. While I am not a materials or composite engineer, I'm pretty confident (based on my experience with bicycles) that composites are frequently much stronger and safer (more crash-resistant) than steel. I raced steel frames on bikes for a long time. A light, built bike was considered one that hit the 20lbs mark. That fell to 18lbs with Titanium, but these frames were more brittle in a crash. I wrecked plenty of both. Today, I can get a carbon bike down to under 14lbs depending on component build. I still crash, but the frames have a much higher survival rate even though they are significantly lighter. So I see no reason a properly designed composite car frame would not equal or improve crash safety standards.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319887)

It's not so much the material the vehicle is made of - it's the material that the passengers are made of.

If your composite frame survives but the driver and passenger are now 'blended' - you don't have a win. Most vehicles these days use the frame as impact absorption. But you have to have some material to work with.

That drawing looks like it would have issues in a collision with a chihuahua.

Re:700 pounds -- goodbye safety standards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319867)

While I agree that it will never pass US safety standards, it would likely be no less safe than a motorcycle, which are obviously legal. Granted, there are helmet laws in some states, but the reality is that you can drive/ride an 'unsafe' vehicle in first-world nations. Knowing the inherent vulnerability of a motorcycle or ultra-light car should encourage its owner to drive/ride safely and defensively. I don't need draconian safety standards to stay alive on the road. I need open eyes, quick reflexes and fewer hummer driving soccer moms applying makeup whilst texting and disciplining said soccer kids.

Nice, but sounds like vaporware (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319101)

FTFA:

Riversimple predicts the car will achieve the energy equivelent of more than 300 miles to the gallon.

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is."

I have wished for open standard products for a long time, things like riding mowers where parts could be reasonably modular - like plugging in a video card into a PC, it doesn't care if it's nvidia, ati, or other. If nothing else than to keep the manufacturers honest when it comes time to repair things but also for cheaper ugrades/accessories as well as just less overlap in redundant but uninterchangeable parts.

OTOH, this car seems like vaporware, while produts like the Aptera are going to be unaffordable (unlike the Tesla) and which will have hybrid and electric available seem much more closer to market and probably could use a push to get it there. The car exists too and isn't just on the drawing board:

http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/video/video_player.shtml?vid=1104622 [jaylenosgarage.com]

20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (4, Insightful)

MultiModeRb87 (804979) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319139)

Well I guess that means they aren't planning on marketing this in the Northeast, or anywhere that there's occasionally snow on the ground. I doubt that much of that 700 lbs would *not* be riddled with rust long before that lease would run out. Seriously, why lease a car for 20 years? And what'd the lease payment be? Not to mention the fact that you could probably just buy the damn thing (or maybe even a nicer car) using a 20 year car loan and cover the fuel out of pocket for far less than what you'd pay these jokers. Effectively locking in the cost of fuel for 20 years may sound attractive, but in practice it's more likely a win-win for the company --sure, you don't pay extra when fuel prices go up, but you also miss out on the downward fuel price fluctuations. The company is certain to make more money from you than you'll get out in fuel in any case, since if the prices are such that the deal would seem to work out in your favor, the company will just go bankrupt.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (1)

Wheat (20250) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319187)

A 20 year lease sounds like a dumb gimmick.

But you could drive the car in a climate that gets snow and salted roads - the body is carbon fiber - no rust!

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (2, Insightful)

MultiModeRb87 (804979) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319263)

A 20 year lease sounds like a dumb gimmick.

But you could drive the car in a climate that gets snow and salted roads - the body is carbon fiber - no rust!

Not everything can be made of carbon fiber. The metal parts (engine, exhaust system, etc) will still rust. Plus, 20 years is a very long time to commit to a car. Lots of expensive components tend to wear out over such a long period. We're supposed to believe that the company (which has zero track record building, selling, and maintaining cars) is even going to be here after that amount of time?

Of course, based on the fine article, it rapidly becomes clear that this is a vaporware economic model for a vaporware car design. This isn't a plan for designing and building a car --it's a plan for getting media attention for the design firm. As such, it's been successful.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319309)

The "engine" is a set of electric hub motors, which are basically maintenance-free. The exhaust system's job is to get rid of a trickle of water from the 7kW hydrogen fuel cell. There's very little need for steel in such a vehicle.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319435)

Except that steel isn't the only metal that corrodes. Copper does as well, especially in a salt environment. Electric hub motors still wear out, whether the electronics need replacement or due to corrosion or other wear and tear, including the bearings. Just because it has fewer moving pieces, doesn't mean it's going to last 20 years maintenance free.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (5, Insightful)

miasmic (669645) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319247)

I doubt that much of that 700 lbs would *not* be riddled with rust long before that lease would run out.

If you RTA you'll see that the bodywork is made from carbon composite. I don't think it's that unreallistic for a car to still be going after 20 years - how many cars are there around on the roads from 1989/1990? Still quite a few (esp. Japanese made), in some parts of the world the majority of cars are that old or older.

But this post is a great illustration of how many people view cars as throwaway, disposable products, good for only 10 years. Cars don't just impact the environment with CO2 emissions, the material and energy cost of production, maintenance and disposal have to be taken into account, and it's about time seeing a manufacturer taking responsibility in this regard, rather than cashing in on the easy profits of throwaway consumerism

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (2, Interesting)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319287)

I don't buy into the whole ecology BS. But my 1991 Jetta is a piece of engineering magic. Still runs fine, gets good mileage, and is rust free. Burns a little oil and needs the head gasket replaced, and the body shows the assorted dings and nicks that a 19 year old car will get. I look forward to driving it 15 years from now, as If anything goes out, it is easily and cheaply replaced or repaired.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (1)

miasmic (669645) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319333)

For sure, my 91 Nissan Avenir has been great - it's possible to fix way more things yourself than on a more modern car, and replacement parts are plentiful and cheap. For example, I can replace the brakepads myself quite easily in less than 20 mins per wheel and the cheapest brand are $25 per axle.

Having said that, I owned an 88 Corolla before that which was nothing but trouble, but I think I'd put that down to not knowing much about cars when I bought it.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319591)

That's the point. A lot of the 'ecology BS' is just about spurring people to use good engineering, as opposed to the bullshit 5-year lifespans people are willing to put up with on most appliances. It doesn't make sense from a financial standpoint.

'Ecology BS' is just a question of looking into the far long term (be that a decade, a few decades, or a century) and deciding what the result of a given action will be. Some of them (global warming) remain a little questionable. However, looking at a city like L.A., the pollution reduction benefits of such a car would easily pay themselves back in medical bills.

Assuming, of course, the population didn't double in response to the relieved pressure, which is probably a pie-in-the-sky assumption.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (1)

MultiModeRb87 (804979) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319317)

I doubt that much of that 700 lbs would *not* be riddled with rust long before that lease would run out.

If you RTA you'll see that the bodywork is made from carbon composite. I don't think it's that unreallistic for a car to still be going after 20 years - how many cars are there around on the roads from 1989/1990? Still quite a few (esp. Japanese made), in some parts of the world the majority of cars are that old or older.

And every one of those cars has a couple of dings and dents in them. Dings and dents that become gaping holes in carbon fiber bodies. gaping holes that drastically degrade the vehicle's aerodynamics, which in turn have an outsize impact on the vehicle's fuel efficiency. While it's true that there are plenty of cars that are still going after 20 years, none of those cars are the lead models of an entirely new and untested design.

But this post is a great illustration of how many people view cars as throwaway, disposable products, good for only 10 years. Cars don't just impact the environment with CO2 emissions, the material and energy cost of production, maintenance and disposal have to be taken into account, and it's about time seeing a manufacturer taking responsibility in this regard, rather than cashing in on the easy profits of throwaway consumerism

Nice try for putting words in my mouth. My concern is whether the damn thing will still be running in 20 years, or whether the company which is supposedly paying for all your fuel will be around for 20 years to make good on its side of the bargain. If I had any reason to be confident in both of those points, I'd be all for purchasing this kind of rollerskate (provided that the price made sense, of course). Based on the cursory descriptions presently available, which do not address these issues at all, I tend to the conclusion that this whole thing is more PR fluff than substance.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (2, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319587)

I bought a used car because I can buy twice the car (performance/safety/features) for half the price of the current model. Not because of CO2 emissions or the price of fuel or being "Green". I wanted a BMW M3 and couldn't afford the current model, but could afford one with 45k miles on it.

You've obviously never tried to convince someone that they should buy a used car. The most common responses I've heard:
"if the car was still good, the previous owner would still be driving it." or
"I don't want someone else's trash." or
"Why don't you wear used clothes?"
"The technology/fuel efficiency/safety/whatever in this years model is better than the previous year...."

Doesn't matter if the car has 20k miles on it and a manufacturers warranty good for up to 75k miles.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319601)

Those throw away cars don't go to the dump to get buried with all the household waste.

They get sold to people willing to do some work to them and drive them for a while longer or they go to a salvage yard and get cannibalized for parts until everything of value if picked from them, then they get recycled. All the throw away mentality does is present poorer people with an opportunity to own a car or repair their cars at a decent rate.

Re:20 years?! (stupid gimmick) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319421)

"the company" = business
in business = making money

otherwise it would have been a charity

HAHAHA (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319161)

The eco-friendly vehicle will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells and made from carbon composites.

Hydrogen fuel cells are extremely far from production. Carbon fiber modeling software is some of the most closely-guarded stuff around, and without some good stuff this thing is a very small rolling coffin. I don't know whether to decry it for being a deathtrap, or to be relieved that it will NEVER, EVER actually happen.

Re:HAHAHA (2, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319197)

Last year I gave my students as an assignment to compare various fuel cell technologies, and also to compare various hydrogen storage technologies. There are many viable alternatives for hydrogen storage, you would be surprised. Even the good-old (but with a modern twist) pressure tanks are now viable.

There are also reformation technologies that create hydrogen on the go, from (for instance) methanol. So you can look at methanol as a hydrogen storage of sorts.

Hydrogen fuel cells is the main topic of my PHD - there's way more life in these little buggers than you'd think. Sure, there was a period of overhype, but I think we went full-circle by now, and there's some solid technology being churned out and reasonable optimism in the research community as well as in industry.

Re:HAHAHA (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319285)

There are many viable alternatives for hydrogen storage, you would be surprised.

I would be really surprised if any of them were actually implemented alongside an entire fueling infrastructure. And please, please, don't bring up that old "reformation of methanol" bit. There's not enough methanol, and we can't make enough.

Re:HAHAHA (2, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319501)

Sure we can make enough methanol. My colleagues in this superproject are working on that part of the equation as we speak - there are many approaches to producing cheap methanol. Most of them require expensive catalysts, sure, but that's a one-time cost. Unless we are talking about biocatalysts, but those, on the other hand, are (or an be) extremely cheap.

Methanol may very well be the fuel of the future.

Eh, maybe. (2, Informative)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319167)

From this article [scientificamerican.com] :

The Urban Car weighs just 772 pounds (350 kilograms), can reach speeds of 50 miles (81 kilometers) per hour, and has a range of more than 200 miles (322 kilometers).

While my Jeep may be heavier, it too on a full tank of gas has a range of 200 miles, and can reach speeds of 50 MPH. And it won't struggle on a hill and I can take my groceries home. I'll be more interested in a car like this that would more practical for the family life. But it is interesting that the engineers will soon post the entire design on the wiki, and anyone can lease the it for free, modify it, and manufacture their own vehicle. 40 Fires Foundation [40fires.org] is a forum to develop energy-efficient cars using an open source approach.

Re:Eh, maybe. (1)

Wheat (20250) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319207)

Yeah, but the point is this car doesn't have a "full tank of gas". At that level of fuel efficiency, it's like driving your Jeep 200 miles at 50 mph on nothing but fumes - about the last 1/2 gallon of gas in a 10 gallon tank.

It's not a car, it's a quadricycle (3, Interesting)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319213)

It looks similar in size to the G-Wiz [google.com] , an all-electric car which can only be legally driven in the UK because it's not classed as a "car", it's a "quadricycle". Quadricycles are basically thought of as a four-wheel motorcycle, so there are almost no safety requirements.

There is little to no chance of these being legal to drive in an US state, other than those that allow "neighborhood vehicles", like golf carts and Japanese Kei-class cars - here in Ilinois you can drive those on streets that have a maximum speed limit of 35 MPH, but no faster.

I especially recommend Clarkson's G-Wiz review [google.com] . The G-Wiz is beaten by a table in the drag race test. Golf carts move faster and are roomier.

Re:It's not a car, it's a quadricycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319573)

in some jurisdictions, making it a three-wheeler (like some 'homebuilt' cars and many tiny car prototypes of the past) will make the "car" fall under motorcycle laws instead, so it could be deemed "street legal".

Re:It's not a car, it's a quadricycle (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319699)

Taking the mass of the car as a measurement as how safe the car is not that dissimilar from thinking that a cpu's clock speed is an adequate measure of how fast that cpu can do things. In both cases, the measurement is only part of a much larger and more complex picture. In the case of automobiles, while there are factors that improve a car's safety that do end up contributing to its mass, there is no theoretical reason that a lighter car would be any unsafer for its occupants than a heavier one unless they were otherwise identical in construction methods.

20 years is a long time to keep a promise (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319215)

Considering my local sports centre decided it's "life membership" meant 5 years[1], I'm rather skeptical if this company is willing or even able to enter into a deal that lasts 20 years. What happens if they get taken over - or goes bust (more than likely). Who owns the car and / or the commitment then. maybe when they've been in business a century or two, I'll be convinced by their stability and be willing to risk my money

[1] and had this upheld in court when some, rather miffed, lifetime members challenged it.

Re:20 years is a long time to keep a promise (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319411)

"...a century or two..." so, Mercedes, Oldsmobile if they still made cars, Ford... kinda slim pickins... nevermind the ones you lump into the second century, most of those would be far worse than whatever came of this.

so much wrong with this (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319241)

700lbs? 1/2 the weight of a SmartCar? An enclosed go-kart.
20 year lease? You mean I'm still going to be making payments on this thing in 2029? Gimme a break.
Hydrogen fuel cell? And we refuel it where?

I don't care how green it might be (if it ever comes to pass), but locked into payments and a design for 20 years is just silly.

Re:so much wrong with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319343)

I have a joke..

"Yo momma's so fat, she is heavier than an open source car."

For the rest of the world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319315)

How much are gallons and pounds in the metric system?

Re:For the rest of the world... (1)

Edzilla2000 (1261030) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319605)

gallons are a bit more than 4 liters, if I remember correctly, and a pound is about half a kilo.

1 pound = 1.17 EUR (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319627)

How much are gallons and pounds in the metric system?

A gallon is either 3.78 L (US) or 4.55 L (imperial), and a pound is either 453.6 g or 1.17 EUR.

Website full of drive-by downloads (2, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319335)

The link in the Slashdot abstract, to http://ostatic.com/ [ostatic.com] causes Norton Security to throw a fit about no fewer than _164_ drive-by downloads on that site. What an unfriendly link to provide. Serves me right for attempting to actually read the article.

yo mama jokes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319341)

yo mama so fat she uses 4 digital camera to take a picture of herself
yo mama so fat when she went out for a walk she caused a solar eclipse
yo mama so fat the government uses her to protect the mexican border

copyright by azaelive

300 miles/gallon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319461)

The dependence on petroleum to power our car will not solve our reliance on hydrocarbons.We must look back in history and learn from our grandparents.For centuries they have been using the most abundant and environmental friendly energy to power transportation at that time...Yeah..I'm talking about steam.

Re:300 miles/gallon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319683)

And how will we make this steam, dumbass?

Lifetime supply of fuel? (2, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319497)

This generally doesn't equate to "as much fuel as you can use." If you read the fine print on these type of statements they often mean "1 per ." When I was a kid I won a "years supply of mac n cheese." This turned out to be a coupon book with 12 coupons in it which could be used one per month. I believe Chik-fil-a did the same thing with their 'years supply' of sandwiches. They just provided 52 coupons for one sandwich per week.

So maybe you'll be allowed one fill-up per month.

Re:Lifetime supply of fuel? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319623)

A friend of mine won a year's supply of a chocolate drink... In July he got 365 bottles, so enough for one a day... However, the expiry date on them was September, so had he actually tried to just drink one a day they would have been rather rancid by the time next June rolled around.

Metric please (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319503)

That's 127.543112 kilometers per liter (or roughly 8 times as fuel-efficient as a Joe Average car).

Re:Metric please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28319921)

...or 0.78 liters per 100 km.

Why I love this concept (2, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319559)

The business model of making carts that can be rented for 20 years is the exact opposite of the current car industry's business model: the car industry of today makes cars that are not exactly reliable and long lasting. They don't have any interest to, because they want you to buy a new car every 5 to 10 years. They also want to make a ton of money from spare part sales.
But if you design a car to be reliable and with cheap spare-parts, that is also fuel-efficient, why that's the best thing one can do for the Earth, car-wise.

I wish these dudes good luck.

Consumer Friendly?! Why "Open Source" Tag? (5, Informative)

betasam (713798) | more than 4 years ago | (#28319597)

I read through the article and a lot of blogs covering Riversimple [riversimple.com] . Here's what it looks like under the hood [riversimple.com] . It seems too early and preliminary for adoption. "Open Source" seems to have been employed purely as a buzzword to generate interest. Most of the detail is actually at the 40 Fires foundation website which will probably release design schematics. Their FAQ [40fires.org] answers questions I had in mind and is a good place for a starting read. The codename for this car is Hybran [40fires.org] . The EU welcomes Hydrogen cars [europa.eu] as a strong "Green" alternative.

If you do compare it to other initiatives like OSCar [theoscarproject.org] , you would find this option from Riversimple probably at a better stage of adoption. But until they unveil their prototypes (16-Jun-2009 is not far) and manufacturing goals (however they intend to go about it,) consumers will be skeptical about adoption. They first have to hit a note on consumers _wanting_ it or _needing_ it before proposing an attractive business model. Most of the prior comments reflect that we are not yet ready. Design momentum on OSCar seems to have stalled in the year 2006.

In contrast another vehicle release earlier this year happened in India with a lot of buzz about a $2,500 car, the Nano [tatamotors.com] from India. This car _can_ do more than 56 mpg on Gasoline. It isn't green, but you can grab one, drive one and feel much safer than the electric counterparts that roam about the cities. This car went through at least 2 yrs of testing because the average consumer was scared about safety. The adoption was further slowed down by slow manufacturing response from Tata Motors.

India has allowed an Electric car (REVA) to be used within City limits (for road safety and range concerns) manufactured by Reva [revaindia.com] . The vehicle (a modest 4 wheeler) which comes in multiple flavors has low adoption rates in cities which allow it. This car through evolution has been heavier than India's top selling gasoline small-car the Maruti Suzuki 800cc 4 seater, and offers lesser range within a city. It has a very short range of 80-100km and requires battery packs to be replaced every two years (or depending on usage.) From June, 2001 the adoption has been very slow. During July, 2008 at least 260 Reva's (multiple models) were sold which is a record high. The Reva is priced at a one time price tag of close to $6,500 with an installed set of batteries. These have to be replaced at about $1000 every year. There's some comprehensive information and links on the Wikipedia Article (Reva) [wikipedia.org] . The cost has been a factor in slowing down adoption added to the fact that electric charges are required almost on a nightly basis. India has welcomed the car with reduced parking charges and several cuts. The G-Whiz model sold outside India is far too pricey ($12000 in Chile) and does not enjoy these environment friendly regulatory benefits.

For crowded cities in India where pollution is a heavy problem, Electrical cars with limited range for office commuters who'd prefer some shade (where public transport is a little inconvenient with timings) has received early adoption. i would presume that countries facing rapid development and growth rates will have to take this more seriously. Scaling public transport infrastructure has always been a challenge in many developing countries owing to a myriad of reasons. The basis for creating indices to track air pollution is outlined quite well in this paper (PDF) from IOP [iop.org] .

As many earlier comments point out accurately, adoption of such alternatives will require regulatory laws from the government (Road taxation, Commercial tax holidays, Green Credits and a lot more.) The working business model for Leasing automobiles is already here [allbusiness.com] . The period being talked about (20yrs) might need to be tweaked which is presumably because of high manufacturing and deployment costs on low initial volume.

There are some pitfalls of lightweight cars at an early stage. Their ride heights are incredibly low that restricts markets in which they can be adopted. It might even keep them out of developing countries until the designs are tested. IMHO coming up with a disruptive solution to personal transport and tagging it with another 20yr lease agreement without the support of an auto major who's made it over a decade selling small cars or energy efficient cars is asking too much from the consumer. The "Open Source" tag means too little unless auto manufacturers see this as the best way to go forward.
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