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Alternative Energy Policies a Boon For Inflatable Electric Car

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the inflatable-submersible-still-struggling dept.

Transportation 133

Brian Stretch writes with a story about the Mini Utility Vehicle prototype from XP Vehicles, an electric car that is partly inflatable. The recent struggles of the auto industry and a political climate that supports the development of alternative energy vehicles have given the car a better chance at actually hitting the market. Quoting: "Building a car takes many years and tens to hundreds of millions of dollars traditionally. XP is able to cut a lot of the costs and timeframe because its car has 70 percent less parts than a regular car, and the company is using novel materials that require simpler factory devices, and production and manufacturing processes that lower the cost to deploy. ... The seat is inflatable, the dashboard is inflatable, and the internal structure and carrying racks are inflatable, or a mesh suspension. Instead of requiring six-axis robots, XP uses radio frequency welders that look like giant waffle irons. The factory equipment is much less expensive and the car simply has less parts that could fail. The motors are built into the rear wheels in most XP prototypes. The first cars to reach the market will have two rear hub motors and a motor controller, that's it."

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133 comments

A Boon? (1)

ZirconCode (1477363) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493159)

It takes certain talent to imagine a boon in inflatable cars...

Re:A Boon? (2, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493521)

XP with an airbag. Does it come in screen blue?

Re:A Boon? (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493583)

It does 10 seconds before it crashes.

What's worse than the blue screen of death? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495077)

"The seat is inflatable, the dashboard is inflatable, and the internal structure and carrying racks are inflatable"

A blue screen you just reboot. Replace "Blue Screen of Death" with "I have a flat".

Mind you, many slashdotters already have experience with inflatable racks via their blow-up "girlfriends."

Re:A Boon? (1)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493609)

It'll be fine after SP3, just in time for it to be replaced by a bloated, road-hogging monstrosity.

Holy crap..where are the mods? That was funny ;) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28494575)

I know Windows bashing is frowned on, but I thought Sulphur's post was LOL funny and by LOL I mean a real 'out loud' type.

Re:Holy crap..where are the mods? That was funny ; (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495631)

I know Windows bashing is frowned on

Hi, you must be new here. Welcome to Slashdot.

Re:A Boon? (2, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493621)

Imagining a boon in inflatable cars is bad enough, but a boon in inflatable electric cars?!

Re:A Boon? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495173)

Imagining a boon in inflatable cars is bad enough, but a boon in inflatable electric cars?!

Could be a whoosh joke in here somewhere.

Re:A Boon? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493817)

Well, you won't need to imagine much longer. Once Obama and his cronies ram the still-unread Waxman Global Warming bill through the Senate, you'll have your very own inflatable car. Because SUVs are teh devil, and it's all you'll be able to afford when the middle class gets soaked yet again to prop up more runaway spending. Want to know what this country's financial future looks like? Just keep your eye on California for another month or so. Hey, weren't we promised that our taxes wouldn't go up if we made under some arbitrary yearly income? Oh wait, I guess Obongo wasn't talking about hidden energy taxes that get passed on to the consumer. You all might want to learn Spanish so that you can follow all the jobs down to Mexico. Boy, now won't that be fucking ironic...

Re:A Boon? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28494455)

It's not irony, it's payback.

Re:A Boon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28494043)

Maybe so, but all I can say is FINALLY!!! I can drive to Europe.

Re:A Boon? (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494201)

wish I had mod point, definitely funny and very subtle.

ABOUT TIME! (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494953)

I've been discussing such ideas with a physicist friend of mine for 10 years now! He actually built structures from compressed air for fun.
30cm thick Bridges that can hold trucks using steel cables wrapped (in a pattern) around essentially a balloon. Towers.... etc.

Some company even made an inflated airplane WING! yes-- a balloon airfoil for a wing. truly impressive-- (BTW they use a fair amount of structure in the balloon-- but its less material and weight than anything conventional.)

They should do more with tension structures and crash design. A good material scientist should help find the proper material for the impact areas--- if it doesn't burst/cut/tear on a crash then one can let out air in a controlled fashion - we were thinking this exhaust air could be transferred instead of lost to something like an air bag or some sort of safety foam or even to lift the driver up above the crash zone. We didn't find a material scientist to discuss this with.

Me, I thought if the shell was in panels or at least a little flexible the car could actually change shape slightly at different speeds. well it sounds cool anyways-- probably not worth it given the small range in speed; however, it would allow a factory to make many customized shapes without all the hard work.

--

Wheel hub motors are a PROBLEM however. When exploring those we decided there is a problem with the bearings; the load on the bearings from essentially having a flywheel in the wheel; the weight and forces from a flywheel in the hub; etc. Turns out to be better in our opinion to NOT put motors in the wheels of a fast moving car. (smaller motor is ok, but then you have speed / power limits-- all 4 wheels helps with the power issue, but then you still have a speed issue; we didn't go further to try to determine how small and light the motor could be and if that was too heavy.) As much as I hate a gearbox, I think a small gearbox is probably needed to keep the motor rpm & inverter in an ideal range. Tesla seems to have concluded similarly.

What I'd like to know is why aren't there any custom motors operating higher than 3-phase around 400V? Would also like to know why we are so low on electronics experts that most are still stuck using DC motors...

Re:ABOUT TIME! (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495285)

What I'd like to know is why aren't there any custom motors operating higher than 3-phase around 400V? Would also like to know why we are so low on electronics experts that most are still stuck using DC motors...

I imagine the voltage limitation has to do with preventing arcing between the windings. But so-called "DC brushless" motors aren't DC motors in the conventional sense; they're more like 3-phase AC motors run with actively switched DC instead of AC.

Waxman-Markey Bill... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28494501)

Economic colonization of middle America by failed coastal states...

which way does the wind blow ... your car over? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493175)

;P

Just don't buy the upgrade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493179)

Just don't buy the upgrade

Re:Just don't buy the upgrade (1)

rtyhurst (460717) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493241)

Or be in when it goes "blue screen"...

Re:Just don't buy the upgrade (4, Interesting)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493465)

Or be in when it goes "blue screen"...

Well, it does make prominent use of Microsoft Sharepoint, so color me skeptical on this point too.

[the] XP [car -edited] is basing its collaborative space around the Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server and also partnering with Autodesk

Too bad. Otherwise, I like the concept & business-model. I guess I'll have to wait for the open-source linux model to be developed. But as someone else commented, there's a so many Microsoft buzzwords thrown around, this could just be a hoax. The CEO's name is Redmond, and they use SharePoint prominently, and they make cars too? I'd like to see a prospectus.

Re:Just don't buy the upgrade (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494427)

It may be legit, vaporware [wikipedia.org] so far but legit; if they get it into production, perhaps the DNF [wikipedia.org] should examine the operation!

Parent is making a reference - This is a Hoax? (5, Insightful)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493267)

Doesn't this sound like a hoax? The CEO is named Redmond. The Car is called the XP. "XP started out with an investment from Microsoft, which offered a majority of its software products and a very large number of its licenses to build some process management." Aren't these some sort of reference to eXtreme Programming and and Windows XP?

Are they going to come out with a Sport Utility model called the eXtreme? Will the next models be called the Vista and the Seven?

Re:Parent is making a reference - This is a Hoax? (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493341)

Are they going to come out with a Sport Utility model called the eXtreme? Will the next models be called the Vista and the Seven?

If they do I'm certain the XP model is going to be around for a veeery looong time.

Re:Parent is making a reference - This is a Hoax? (1)

portalcake625 (1488239) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493349)

This looks like a big, late April's fool joke.
If they're gonna run Windows XP on it, better be XPe, just to be safe.
I sure hope it's not going to be internet-connected.
Anyone think it can be used to run *nix?
because just imagine it, riding your brand-new inflatable car to your wife then... it turns blue with 0x7B errors... lol

Re:Parent is making a reference - This is a Hoax? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493509)

From their website [myxpcar.com]. If you don't feel like reading the answer, it's "we haven't got one to show you".

Q. Where can I see one of your cars?

A. It takes many years and tens of millions of dollars to create a domestic automobile for the retail market. Our competitors, are, in many cases, showing "mock-ups" of cars they hope to raise funding for. When we have spent the time and the money on a real car, we will show that car to our customers. We may allow some documentation of our mock-ups but we will not represent those efforts as engineered, market ready vehicles.

Re:Parent is making a reference - This is a Hoax? (2, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494063)

From their website [myxpcar.com]. If you don't feel like reading the answer, it's "we haven't got one to show you".

Q. Where can I see one of your cars?

A. It takes many years and tens of millions of dollars to create a domestic automobile for the retail market. Our competitors, are, in many cases, showing "mock-ups" of cars they hope to raise funding for. When we have spent the time and the money on a real car, we will show that car to our customers. We may allow some documentation of our mock-ups but we will not represent those efforts as engineered, market ready vehicles.

That sounds suspiciously like some of the Agile programming stuff...

Re:Parent is making a reference - This is a Hoax? (2, Funny)

squeeze69 (756427) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493831)

Does anyone would drive a Vista car? With the UAC asking if you really want to stop or start anytime? :-)

Even if they are serious (2, Interesting)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493853)

I doubt their ability to build the car, considering that they obviously don't understand the difference between power and energy. From the table in TFA:

-"Available power" given in kWh

-and three rows below a "hybrid power" for the Volt that is completely meaningless, considering that the Volt drives on electric motors and only uses the petrol engine for recharging.

Unless David Mantey, Editor, PD&D has cooked up this drivel on his own. In that case I apologize to the XP Vehicles Inc. crew and David Mantey may considered himself bashed ;-)

Re:Parent is making a reference - This is a Hoax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28494145)

Well, if so, it will have uses for some. If you want to get rid of your spouse or somebody, buy them one. You know that it will crash sooner or later and take everything important with it. Of course, be prepared to have it stolen, and to pay lots of extra money to try and avoid that. You Kids will be taking it for joy rides. Yeah, I might just buy one for a worst enemy.

Re:Parent is making a reference - This is a Hoax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28494635)

Redmond, XP, Microsoft...

San Francisco...

It's the most PC car yet conceived!

XP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493185)

I hope they don't run xp in their factory or the car.

hostel to the US (2, Funny)

hbr (556774) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493201)

From TFA:

all of the Lithium is located in countries that are hostel [sic] towards the U.S. - which is a bit of a problem ...

... which I guess means that they only reserve substandard accommodation for their US visitors, whereas everyone else gets 5-star. Rough deal.

Just Re-Tool... (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493211)

Brilliant!

They can expand production facilities cheaply by buying up old whoopy-cushion factories and doing minimal re-tooling! They could even re-hire the old employees, as the same skill-sets would apply!

However, I don't think I'll be the first in line to buy a new "Whoopy-Mobile". It would simply be too embarrassing to deflate at a public parking facility.

Strat

I wish them the best in their endeavour (3, Informative)

mendred (634647) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493215)

From reading the article, it looks as if the company has put in a lot of thought and effort into making a product that not only is technically advanced but also have developed a marketing strategy and are tailoring their product for a segment- The point about removable chargeable batteries was something that had kept crossing my mind everytime i had seen an article on electric cars and I am glad someone has gotten around to implementing it (I am unsure if anyone else has..if so please feel free to correct me!) . They appear to be getting their basics right and in addition are trying to put in some real innovation (inflatable parts).I hope they get their funding problems sorted. I for one would be rooting for them!

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (2, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493355)

I think that no one is going to trust an inflatable car. I do like the idea of removable batteries though. I've had it myself in the past- removable batteries sold at gas stations solves the refueling and infrastructure problems with minimal investment/retooling costs. Just drop off your old battery and pick up a new one. Charging doesn't even need to be done at the station, if the power requirements are too high- ship them to a recharger and back. But something like this needs to happen- if you can't take a pure electric car on vacation or recharge it on the road when you forget to plug in for a day or two they'll never take off. Not to mention anyone living in an apartment complex doesn't have an electric outlet by their car.

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493473)

"Pick up a new one"? Seriously, have you ever tried to pick up a car battery? I'm talking about the regular kind, not the kind with enough juice to propel an automobile for hours. I think I might have found a flaw in this plan of yours.

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (2, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493489)

Yes, they aren't *that* heavy. Only 50 pounds or so. But that doesn't matter- you'd be bringing your car with you when you pick it up. So you make it so they slide in and out onto a special cart, and the only lifting you need to do is onto the cart. If you're too infirm to do so, the clerk can do it. That's an easily solvable problem.

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (2, Informative)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494385)

If you have a "refueling station" where you can swap the battery for a full one, fine.
But TFA explicitly talks about taking the battery to your apartment for charging. And since we're talking about a battery pack to drive a vehicle (not just start the internal combustion engine), the battery will be a LOT bigger and heavier than a traditional car battery.
Even with modern battery technology (some Li-ion variant) I guess the battery will be at least a 100 kg (about 220 pounds) part.

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (0)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493605)

That's why we invented wheelbarrows! (...so the Irish could learn to walk on their hind legs - ba-doom-crassh).

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494253)

Car batteries are made of lead, that's why they are so heavy. These are not lead batteries.

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494401)

"have you ever tried to pick up a car battery?"

How scrawny are your arms that this is a problem for you, anyway?

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (1)

myxiplx (906307) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493983)

"I think that no one is going to trust an inflatable car."

Why not? As they say in the article, a good chunk of your car is now your airbag. If they're confident enough to send a door panel for the police to shoot at, and can design a car that passes crash tests *without* writing it off, it sounds like they're on to something.

This is one to watch closely I think.

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494215)

survive crash tests and still be recoverable? how much you wanna bet some convenient misfortune befalls developers before they can gut the current auto industry. because that is what they are on track to do. for not too much more money you could even get the "inflation" done with a rigid foam instead of just air for people too freaked out by a car being nothing but air and composite.

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494227)

I think that no one is going to trust an inflatable car.

If they show footage of it surviving major impacts that would crush other vehicles, and surviving a full clip of AK47 ammo without bursting, maybe they might. (the bullets just go straight through, though, so you might not survive...)

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493479)

I for one would be rooting for them!

Aww, come on. This is soo obviously a fake. Read the article again, without i-wish-this-to-be-true-goggles.

An inflatible car that survives crash tests. A bullet proof car at less than 1.400 lbs. "The dashboard is a preinflated airbag that has a rear projection screen." With an OLED video screen. And all that with a cost to market of $70m.

Yeah, right.

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493573)

Exactly. This is one of the first in many of "businesses" that will soak the taxpayer in the name of building a new national energy policy. Meet the new boss...

Re:I wish them the best in their endeavour (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495217)

Aww, come on. This is soo obviously a fake. Read the article again, without i-wish-this-to-be-true-goggles.

Why do you hate the future?

In other news (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493223)

Bolivia is suspected to have substantial stocks of WMDs; especially under Salar de Uyuni

Re:In other news (-1, Flamebait)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493321)

You mean more than your country?

Or do you apply double standards here?

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28494975)

well, if he's from the US then the Bolivians got 13.17 times more. I know it's an estimation but I'd call that substantial too.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28495159)

The goal is that NO ONE should own WMD.

less parts to fail.. (3, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493257)

... means nothing when the few parts you do have are prone to disaster.

never fear though - this is yet another imaginary product (they have nothing more than a computer rendering ffs), you need not fear that your car will deflate on you any time soon.

RTFA for such gem's as this "What we have discovered is that the insurance industry is not going to let electric cars run extension chords all over the place because you trip and fall" - genius, just pure genius.

Re:less parts to fail.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493417)

... means nothing when the few parts you do have are prone to disaster.

Nonono, the few parts they have totally can not fail, because it's made of inflated unobtainium

According to XPâ(TM)s current simulations, the first destructive test car will, most likely, survive all destructive tests.

Re:less parts to fail.. (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493789)

... means nothing when the few parts you do have are prone to disaster.

never fear though - this is yet another imaginary product (they have nothing more than a computer rendering ffs), you need not fear that your car will deflate on you any time soon.

Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) have been around for quite some time.

Self-sealing gloop (like mountain bike tyres) FTW.

Re:less parts to fail.. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494087)

Self-sealing MTB tires mostly don't work. They work against cactus spines and similar, but mostly nothing else. My local bike shop guy even runs normal tubes, and just scabs them every time they fail. (He doesn't sell normal tubes though... just the expensive ones. sleazy)

Re:less parts to fail.. (1)

WytErp (1586467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493841)

Don't forget the battery "swap by mail-in subscription service" -- looks like you'll be able to use any old Netflix envelopes you have lying around...

If you fill it with Helium, will it float . . . ? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493315)

. . . maybe this is breakthrough that we have been waiting for on the "Flying Car" front?

Re:If you fill it with Helium, will it float . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493669)

Better fill it with CO2, and further reduce greenhouse effect.

Utah is the investment scam capital of US (4, Informative)

linuxguy (98493) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493367)

State of Utah has more than its fair share of investment scams:

Here is one of several articles I have seen on the topic:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20070107/ai_n17107556/ [findarticles.com]

And after story about the inflatable car, I got the impression that these people were looking to scam investors, and/or the federal govt.

Re:Utah is the investment scam capital of US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28494903)

Don't forget mormonism. One of the biggest scams there is, second only to christianity.

Looks like a classic startup operation (2, Insightful)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493379)

Develop a plan.

Execute it well.

Possibly get bought buy a larger rival. Or, the way things are going... build up resources until a 'larger' competitor with access to markets is bought.

No tears for GM or Chrysler, please; I'm a stockholder and I want to see honest, prudent, and environmentally responsible returns.

Release the Cruft.

God-speed!

I feel for the poor 6-axis robots (2, Funny)

johannesg (664142) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493393)

They are now too expensive as well, and their work will be outsourced to cheaper waffle irons that are presumably located somewhere in Belgium...

Re:I feel for the poor 6-axis robots (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493801)

They are now too expensive as well, and their work will be outsourced to cheaper waffle irons that are presumably located somewhere in Belgium...

And when the waffle irons get too expensive we'll return to Oriental [child] labour ?

new meaning to news items (3, Funny)

naeone (1430095) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493459)

so when we now hear of a car being blown up in an incident it doesn't mean its terror related

Re:new meaning to news items (1)

joetee (13215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493475)

The car being "Un-Blown" would be worse: Think what a BB-gun or hypodermic needles would do, let alone one poke by a Laser beam!

you willy ain't gonna inflate no more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493461)

imagine you willy being smacked until it bleeds

Inflatable wings option? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493597)

Inexpensive flying cars finally arrive.

Sounds like a bunch of crap to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493641)

srsly.

Now really think about it... (4, Informative)

cyrano.mac (916276) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493657)

The comments here have shown me one thing: it's all in the mind of the buyer. Cars like this don't turn over on a roundabout, neither will they be blown away by the wind. But they won't sell, cause customers (at least in the US) seem to have a different mindset. Most of the commenters seem to want a heavy, typical American concept which consumes a lot, of course. Now maybe it's a hoax, maybe not. But they'd better look at Euro, Asian and African markets for a concept like this. Over here, we've had a number of electric vehicles on the road since 20 yrs. or so. Most of them based on existing small cars. Most of these projects were fairly succes full given their niche market, because people don't mind driving a really small car. Tata (India) will be present in the US market real soon. First with a small car with a classic engine, later on with an air powered car. They have the size, money and production facilities to make this work. Others are coming too. But will they be able to change US' customers mindset?

Don't worry... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493869)

Obama is seeing to it that soon we Americans will only be able to afford small Euro cars, too. All Americans except him, that is. He and all the other politicians will still be rolling around in armored luxury vehicles surrounded by an SUV security convoy. Must be nice to be able to flick off every single American and still have them lining up to suck your cock...

Re:Now really think about it... (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494119)

Most of the commenters seem to want a heavy, typical American concept which consumes a lot, of course. Now maybe it's a hoax, maybe not.

You're dumb. What the commenters want is to not die. Conceptually I would love to drive a tiny car like this if only I would fit in it (I am two meters tall) but realistically someone with a midsize car and no clue could come along and vaporize you. With vehicles like my super cab F250 on the road, and people who should in no wise be permitted to pilot a bicycle let alone an automobile often driving them, a small vehicle like that is mostly a pre-formed coffin.

Others are coming too. But will they be able to change US' customers mindset?

Nope. It's a chicken-and-egg situation. If you changed the laws to get the unnecessarily large vehicles off the road... well, you'd destroy the US automakers overnight :)

Re:Now really think about it... (4, Informative)

downix (84795) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494383)

You know, this fallacy really needs to die. I saw a front end collision between a Smart car and an F450, yeah that super-big thing, all decked out with rims and everything. The F450 wound up on top of the smart car. And what about the Smart Car driver? He opened his door, and walked out. The F450 driver, hospital with major injury despite wering a seatbelt.

That was the day I realized that the "big cars are safe cars" idea was a complete fraud.

Re:Now really think about it... (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495581)

That was the day I realized that the "big cars are safe cars" idea was a complete fraud.

Big cars are not automatically safe, nor are small cars automatically unsafe. The Smart is an excellent example of a well-engineered small car. There are numerous counterexamples, however; furthermore, they are far more numerous. I have a big unsafe car (1992 F250 4x4 Diesel... although if I took a front-end from one of those in a Smart I'd be worried about ending up with an International-Navistar Diesel V8 in my mouth) and a big safe car (1982 MBZ 300SD) and prefer to have some mass and some extended crumple zones. At least both of 'em are well-used and can run on biodiesel, and do occasionally.

I maintain that people are worried, and justly, about being just about vaporized in a collision. I don't think that you can't make safe small cars, but I think it's easier to make safe large cars. Certainly most of the safest-ranked vehicles around seem to be mid to full-size sedans.

Re:Now really think about it... (1)

topnob (1195249) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494187)

Actually I'm from Australia and I guess Australia is in the Euro, Asian and African market as well.....wait isn't that the REST of the WORLD!! Anyway I was waiting for my friend to pick me up in his tiny car(which he bought after he traded in his fuel guzzler(v6 commodore Aussies out there)), and nearly every car that went past was small, there were only a couple of SUVs(like 1 in 10 or so). It was weird, i mentioned it to my friend when he picked me up and hes said everyone's buying small cars these days(I guess someone forgot to send the memo to me). I wonder if there are any stats about this?

Potential safety problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493673)

There are potentially significant safety problems with these futuristic types of car design.

Specifically, when e.g. an inflatable car collides head on with a good-ol-gasoline-based car. The latter has a heavy engine in the front, surrounded by metallic stuctures designed to absorb the force of an impact, thus protecting the passengers. What does an inflatable car do to protect the passengers in these types of collisions?

A big engine compartment and the protection it provides has been an essential component of automobile design for decades, and when developing new car models with new power sources, the lessons learned regarding safety should not be forgotten.

That's 'fewer' parts, not 'less'... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28493675)

So go ahead and call me a grammar Nazi. At least I'm not the illiterate clot.

Re:That's 'fewer' parts, not 'less'... (0, Flamebait)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493881)

less

      determiner & pronoun 1 a smaller amount of; not as much. 2 fewer in number

(source: Compact Oxford English Dictionary)

Sounds like meaning 2 is correct in this situation. Yes, fewer is better, but I don't think less is actually incorrect.

Re:That's 'fewer' parts, not 'less'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28494111)

The much repeated "rule" was pulled out of a hat by Baker in 1770. The rule didn't match usage then and has never matched usage since. 'Less' has been used for countables for over a thousand years.

I won't call you a clot, but I will call you a clod.

...that's it (1)

Valtor (34080) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493707)

The first cars to reach the market will have two rear hub motors and a motor controller, that's it.

You mean there is no batteries ? ;-)

Does it run Linux? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493843)

No, seriously, there's no bloody way I'm getting into a car with a control system running Windows. I don't want the dashboard telling me "A fatal exception has occurred...".

Re:Does it run Linux? (2, Funny)

Turzyx (1462339) | more than 4 years ago | (#28493949)

dude1: Man, I can't believe it, my car crashed!

dude2: Oh my god! Are you OK!?

dude1: No, I meant.... Oh nevermind.

Re:Does it run Linux? (1)

topnob (1195249) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494191)

Thats actually exactly what I thought as well....Make sure you reboot it nightly just in case.... lol

Re:Does it run Linux? (1)

downix (84795) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494345)

I'm just imagining when a new skin turns out to have a virus. Every so often your speedometer pops up with "Your system is infected with 69 viruses, please purchase Antivirus 2009 to correct"

Re:Does it run Linux? (1)

Dexx (34621) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495685)

A clever virus would just up your speed a few mph so you get ticketed frequently.

sorry, not going to change the world (1)

MagicMerlin (576324) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494109)

I wish them the best, but their project is doomed. The EV market is clearly going towards batteries, the comments in the article about the scarcity of lithium (11th most numerous element in the ocean) are laughable. In current battery costs, only a small percentage goes towards the lithium raw material purchase. At least EVs more or less piggyback off the current electric grid, which obviously couldn't handle transportation demands, but its a start.
The problems with fuel cells are numerous. Where do you buy your fuel cells? How do you get your hydrogen from point A to point B? The problem with these guys is that their project was initiated when fuel cells were 'hot' to those without common sense (government) before they went on to the next brainless strategy...ethanol (oops).
Not only that, commercially recoverable hydrogen comes from natural gas...

Re:sorry, not going to change the world (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495437)

Do not say stupid things like "11th most numerous element in the ocean". (a It's a pain in the ass to extract the first two. (b relative abundance != abundance, and (c it's meaningless to determine how easy it will be to extract.

A much better number would be .1 to .2 parts per million (source: wikipedia). So to obtain 1 kg of lithium, you'd only have to process 5,000,000-10,000,000 kg of seawater. Gee, I wonder why no one is doing this?

Speaking of innovative body construction and drive (2, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494239)

Speaking of innovative body construction and drive train technology, here [amazon.com] is car which is constructed almost entirely of injection molded parts, and whose biomass powered drive train qualifies it as a zero emissions vehicle.

On top of that, it has that elusive quality that makes a car a hit: style. Within the target market segment, its appeal is undeniable. Best of all, it's not a concept car. You can buy it today.

These guys have read way too much Sluggy Freelance (1)

Liquidape (260782) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494431)

The web comic Sluggy Freelance ( http://www.sluggy.com/ [sluggy.com] ) has had an ongoing character for years that developed all sorts of inflatable tech. I was halfway expecting to see the name Dr. Schlock in the article.

Dave.

Badly Faked (4, Insightful)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494451)

The pictures in the linked article are of a 2003 model MCC Smart [wikipedia.org]. It's been stretched out a bit, they didn't even bother to make the wheels fit into the wheelarches after stretching!

Power is not measured in kWh... (2, Interesting)

kybur (1002682) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494537)

Power is not measured in kWh...

...That's a unit of energy (in case you didn't have time to RTFA). If they can't make a simple table without screwing up their units, can they really make a car?

OK. The dashboard _concept_ is "interesting" but (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#28494871)

is this really a need crying out to be filled? I thought a smart car was already plastic hung on a metal frame. Maybe for things like the seats materials science could come up with a durable and rigid foamed substance that was still light but wasn't actually inflatable? Same for the dashboard. Why not a rigid material?

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28495103)

Will this inflatable car have solid steel wheels?

The strongest parts of a car are it tires (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495195)

The strongest parts of a car are already inflateable. However, those parts are quite heavy. Inflateable parts are not necessarily lighter than metal parts.

Microsoft XP Vehicle (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 4 years ago | (#28495543)

'XP started out with an investment from Microsoft, which offered a majority of its software products and a very large number of its licenses to build some process management. XP is basing its collaborative space around the Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server [pddnet.com]'
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