Forget the Aptera, forget even the Tesla: the Rinspeed iChange is what electric-powered vehicles should be all about. For two simple reasons...firstly it's one sweet piece of design engineering, and secondly its main control unit is an iPhone.
Yes, you read that right--the Swiss engineering team at Rinspeed have crafted this concept electric vehicle around the iPhone, which not only acts as a unique electronic key but also controls "the most important vehicle functions" with the help of a special app. Though the imagery shows it mostly controlling turn signals and hazard warning lights, the idea that you use a cellphone--which many of us are increasingly docking in our cars in any case--to act as a digital vehicle interface is cheekily brilliant.
Innovation doesn't stop there, though. The iChange is designed to be a single-seater in its main configuration--the teardrop canopy hinges down over the center-seated driver and its aerodynamic shape means there's no room for passengers. But click a button, and the canopy pops up to an intermediate height, leaving room for two passengers to sit behind the driver. Neat, though it'd limit the vehicle to being useful only in warmer climes.
Otherwise the 1000kg vehicle's got a 201bhp electric engine, with a lithium battery pack that gets trickle-charge top-ups from a solar panel on the car's roof. It will go 0 to 62mph in 4.2 seconds, and top-out at a speedy 136mph...though it's limited to 56 mile ranges by the 3-cell battery pack used in the prototype.
As well as using an environmentally-kind power train, the car's interior ditches plastic for wool and leather, the solar panel also drives the fan to cool the passengers, and the GPS is set to always calculate the most energy-efficient route to the destination.
Compared to the pedestrian designs of existing and planned electric cars, and even the oddly retro-futuristic Aptera, the iChange is really what we should all be driving in the future. It'll make its public debut at the upcoming Geneva motor show.
Of course, it's just a concept--but it embodies some neat ideas that real e-car makers would do well to copy, since that'd be one sure-fire way of getting the public charged up about switching away from gas-engine cars. I'm seriously planning on buying an electric Smart car when they hit the road in a year or so...but I'd happily reconsider that if something like the iChange made it to reality