Yesterday, Inhabitat broke news of Trexa, an open platform that would allow partners to create their own custom electric vehicles. And blogs went crazy: the first EV development platform! Open source hardware! Build your own car! Change it if you need to!
Let's take a step back. This might be a compelling solution--but it's a solution looking for a problem.
As Trexa's Web site explains, the idea is to create an all-purpose drivetrain, powered by lithium batteries, which can serve as the locomotion for any type of four-wheeled vehicle you can dream up.
The most obvious challenge is finding people with either the time or expertise to create solutions for the platform. (And would any drivetrain platform outlive the usefulness of the attachments bolted onto it?) But a more basic issue is, how many people really need or want a custom, one-off car? And do you really need to change that vehicle all that much during its lifespan?
Trexa seems to be gearing it's pitch to cities and the military, which need several types of vehicles in their fleet. But that's where things get silly. These agencies have huge fleets--so they don't need to retrofit what they have. Is it really easier to retrofit a car platform than for a city agency to simply ask the dudes over at Parks and Recreation if you can borrow their pick-up truck for an afternoon? And wouldn't a smart, green transport planner simply buy a bunch of electric all-purpose vehicles, such as vans or trucks?
The company bills itself as an assembly of unnamed "advanced vehicle technologists" and "visionary designers." Visionary indeed: This concept seems to hit all the major tech buzzwords of the day. And cities and the military really are trying to green their vehicles.
But if you want to create something really smart, you could start by getting the most out of what people already have, rather than building something new with vanishingly little usefulness.
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