Electric vehicles are hot news at the Geneva Motor Show this year, but EDAG’s new concept vehicle is standing out from the crowd by taking a chunk of inspiration from the new Knight Rider–the car’s exterior is a user-configurable display screen.
The vehicle, dubbed “Light Car-Open Source,” is what’s becoming a pretty-conventional electric car, with lithium-ion battery packs, a range of around 150km and all-wheel electric drive. The motors are packed inside the wheels, however, which creates efficiencies thanks to less power loss in a centralized drive-train. And the vehicle makes use of some unusual materials in its construction.
Most interestingly, the major chassis structures are made from ASA.TEC fiber–an “industrially standardized basalt fiber.” Basalt fiber is actually made from quarried basalt rock which is heated up to around 2,500ºF and pushed through fine nozzles to create streams of molten rock that solidify into fibers as they cool in the air. The product is similar to carbon fiber or fiberglass, but is physically stronger than fiberglass and significantly cheaper than carbon fiber. Its use in the physical structure of a vehicle as a composite material is a first for EDAG, and it promises to make a strong, lightweight chassis that improves the car’s performance and yet costs less than other options.
As well as using polycarbonate on the Light Car’s shell, the most innovative feature is its advanced lighting system. EDAG uses OLED tech throughout the design. The headlights and turn signals are all OLED panels which are invisible when off, as is the dashboard–this is in fact an entire “glass cockpit” display system, with driver-configurable set ups, that let you position, say, the speedometer right where you like.
But the most KITT-like feature isn’t a snarky in-car voice system, thank goodness, it’s the car’s tailgate. This is a semi-transparent OLED screen designed to act like a giant information projector. The usual turn signals, hazard warning, brake and fog lighting elements are all there, but the “screen” is also designed to communicate more sophisticated information to drivers behind the car. For example, a scale indicates the amount of braking force being applied by the Light Car’s driver–useful to alert the trailing cars that there’s an emergency brake maneuver going on, perhaps. Other information like speed limits and upcoming roadworks or traffic jams could be displayed too, helping to make driving safer–that’s assuming the information density is kept low and simple enough so as not to distract other drivers.
Of course the 1.7 x 2.9-meter car is just a concept, but with its electric engine, 100% recyclable basalt chassis and uber-futuristic lighting system it’s pretty visionary. Lets hope “real” car designs take this as an inspiration.