Public and Private Transport in One: Rinspeed microMAX

If you don't love Rinspeed then there's a decent chance that you don't have a heart. The endlessly curious Swiss custom car maker – or 'creative think tank for the automotive industry', as the company describes itself – is famous for concepts that can fly underwater, change shape on the move, and even cars requiring a Swiss Army knife to start the engine. They are extroverts, and will be bringing the comparatively commonsensical microMAX concept to this year's Geneva Motor Show, aimed at providing a solution for sustainable and flexible emobility in urban areas.

The Concept

Co-developed with Harman (who have fitted their HALOsonic synthesized sound technology), the microMAX operates and exists on the pretence of swarm intelligence, where collective intelligence is greater than just sum of the individuals involved. By using an app created by Harman, users will have their journeys planned in advance, taking traffic, speed, and other passengers into consideration using collective information stored on a Cloud platform.

One of the overall aims is to change our attitudes to short distance transportation by “cleverly bringing together private and public use in individual travel”. Who's going where and when is all taken into account, and if you end up driving the microMAX alone to the shops then so be it, but if others are heading in the same direction then you'll have passengers.

Put simply, on regular commuter routes the microMAX facilitates carpooling, and in a personal capacity it facilitates car-sharing. There is, however, the potential for people looking for on-the-spot rides to climb aboard, and three ergonomic workspaces per cabin make it easy for people to hop-on and off.

With all this potential, it's a good thing Harman's app takes care of the logistics, and users looking for transport simply enter a destination and the most appropriate vehicle from the swarm swings by. Because information concerning routes, destinations, travelling speed and passengers in each microMAX is stored on the cloud, waiting times and the need for prior planning are eradicated. The result is that the microMAX takes 30% travel time than buses and with 80% less scheduled stops.

The Car

A 100km range gives the microMAX just enough juice to work as an urban mode of transportation, but an unladen weight of 1,380kg certainly doesn't help. Inside, space-saving (but surprisingly comfortable-looking) upright seats keep overall length to that of a modern Mini and high-quality materials give a modern and lounge-like character. In typical Rinspeed fashion, a coffee machine, fridge and a host of technological toys are also available. Up front, the driver – whoever it may be - enjoys a 19” HD touchscreen.

A Reality?

5,000 microMAX's would have to be sold to governmental or private customers every year for the project to break even. Expanding the vehicle lifecycle and making the construction process more modular would make things easier, although ultimately it's highly unlikely that we'll see the microMAX on street corners in the near future.

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