CLEVER Car is a Lemon

What a nonsense the CLEVER Car prototype is. It's undoubtedly cool and fun. I'd like to have a play. Is it the answer to congestion and environmental impact issues? Emphatically not.

It is true that there are endless rows of four seaters and SUVs (Socially Unacceptable Vehicles) with one occupant queued up to and from towns every day. Does that mean we should replace these with lots of tiny one-person vehicles?

While CLEVER Car addresses the obvious: Low weight, high mileage on greener fuel, it ignores the more important issues of social acceptance. It is too small. While it looks like it MIGHT have a rear seat, not many people are going to be comfortable using it and two-up there is NO cargo space.
What is needed for a town runabout / commuter vehicle? A MINIMUM of two sensible seats and space for substantial cargo. Small size (Length and width). If you want it to be "Green" then focus should be on materials, lightness, power source and maintainability / simplicity. Very importantly, for it to be any use, it must be acceptable by a wide range of people and suitable for longer journeys to prevent the purchase of a second vehicle.

I'm also intreagued because I'm very sure that much previous research has shown that a three wheeled vehicle is much more stable with two wheels at the FRONT and several prototypes and small production run vehicles with this layout have shown promise. In this layout there is no need for clever leaning mechanisms. It's a layout that also lends itself much better to a more usable package: Front wheel drive, two people next to each other, cargo space to the rear either side of the back wheel.
If you want to make a good commuter vehicle, update the microvan concept (Suzuki Carry etc.). Microvans come in up to six seat configuration, are short, narrow, light and flexible in use. The one thing they are not is COOL.Well, we can address that:
Take a microvan and make it more fun and appealing, like the SMART. Focus design efforts on ease of maintenance and give it a sustainable power source. Of course the team could have worked on this, but it wouldn't have been half so clever, or fun.
CLEVER Car is a chance for academics to spend substantial funding on a fun toy for them to play with and pat themselves on the back while they are at it. It does nothing to foreward the cause of greener transport.

I'll expand this argument as soon as I have time. I just had to post something.


~ by gear on April 25, 2006.

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