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By Ketan Patel


Rinspeed UC Concept 2010

RinSpeed UC Concept, 'UC' for Urban Commuter, is the latest two-seater compact concept car from the Swiss automobile, RinSpeed. The little speedster measures less than 2.60 meters in length and is intended to help avoid gridlock in the inner cities.  At the same time an advanced railcar loading system will add the option to cover long distances by train, comfortable, without traffic jams and stress-free.

Rinspeed combines Cars, Trains and the Web in a New Mobility Concept - “UC?” - Clever High-Tech Bubble with Electric Drive


Filled with emotions and new ideas - that is the signature feature of the concept cars from Swiss car visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht that have added colorful bright spots to the Geneva Motor Show for many years. Rinspeed boss Rinderknecht always has a surprise up his sleeve and this year is no different. Once again he does what nobody would have expected from the whiz kid known in the past for his affinity for powerful machines: He’s building a subcompact car. But that’s not all: For the first time in the long history of its concept cars the Swiss automobile and concept powerhouse has developed not just a vehicle but an entire mobility concept. The cute two-seater with electric drive is aptly called the “UC?” which stands for “Urban Commuter.” But the biggest surprise is that the “UC?” was designed to be ready for future series production. The little speedster measures less than 2.60 meters in length and is intended to help avoid gridlock in the inner cities.  At the same time an advanced railcar loading system will add the option to cover long distances by train, comfortable, without traffic jams and stress-free.

The goal is to create a new mobility concept that integrates individual car ownership and public transportation. A transverse loading system using custom railcars allows loading and unloading of numerous “UC?” vehicles simultaneously and in a very short time. Train passages are booked and reserved online directly from the vehicle. Harman International provides the permanent 3G internet connection as well as marvelous sound on wheels. VoIP2Car technology provides IP telephone service, video chat, video conferences, e-mail and many more features in the “UC?”.

Integrated charging stations on board the custom railcars ensure that upon arrival at the destination the “UC?” battery is once again fully charged for maximum operating range. During the train trip drivers can visit the train restaurant, use any of the other train amenities or spend time in the privacy of their cars.

With this mobility concept Rinspeed elegantly circumvents the obstacle of limited operating range that so far has kept many interested parties from switching to zero-emission vehicles.  As Frank M. Rinderknecht sees it: “I can make more efficient use of my time than spending it driving on a boring highway. I’d rather visit the train restaurant or retreat to work in my car.” The Swiss visionary is already in discussions with international railroad companies about his new mobility concept.

Anyone who lays eyes on the clever high-tech bubble for the first time is reminded of the Fiat ‘Topolino’ models from the ‘30s to ‘50s. This is loveable car design. Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht: ““UC?” is a new and highly emotional web-based car world that interweaves individual and public transport in an intelligent way. We want to create a community of people who are open for a new definition of mobility.”

As in past years, the concept car was built by Swiss engineering company Esoro. The lightweight vehicle produces 130 Newton meters of torque, reaches a top speed of 120 km/h and has an operating range of 105 kilometers. That is more than enough for most traffic in urban areas. Statistics show that in Europe 82 percent of all trips cover distances of less than 60 kilometers - short-distance driving clearly represents the vast majority of all individual traffic.

The “UC?” also features a number of technical highlights: Goodbye steering wheel, hello force-feedback joystick. The new joystick technology is supplied by German electronics specialist Rafi. Rinderknecht says: “Forget everything you have learned about joysticks so far. Finally this system provides a better steering feel and clear feedback from the road.” The entire car is operated via Space Drive, a drive-by-wire system developed by Paravan, one of the leading manufacturers of handicap vehicles. Rinspeed and its partners had to master numerous challenges surrounding the electric drive system: The lithium-ion batteries come from Li-Tec-Battery in Germany, a joint venture of Evonik and Daimler AG. The efficient and reliable on-board charger is supplied by specialist Absaar; the external stationary charger comes from ABB Sécheron. Axpo Holding is yet another energy company that partnered with Rinspeed on this project. The electric heater and sphere-shaped vents were installed by the specialists from Eberspächer. Rinspeed also received support from the consortium Swiss Coop, which promotes decisive action and zero-emission mobility, and from the power plants of the Canton of Zurich that provide electricity and the required infrastructure. To save as much energy as possible the developers have placed highest priority on lightweight design: Ticona, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of engineering polymers, plays a major part in achieving this objective. The lightweight lift gate comes from Rehau, an OEM supplier for the automotive industry. The P7 Cinturato ‘Green Tires’ from Pirelli in size 195/40 R 17 are mounted on special lightweight rims from German-Austrian manufacturer AEZ. The delicate-looking rims weigh just 6.2 kilograms each. Eco-friendly lubricants are provided by Motorex. And of course the electric “love bug” has a number of features that will stir up emotions:  An immediate eye-catcher is the paint that changes color from yellow to green. The paint was supplied by Akzo Nobel, one of the world’s largest paint manufacturers. A new adhesive paint called “Stickerfix” is perfect for touching up minor cosmetic paint blemishes sustained on the road. The jazzy leather interior including aluminum inlays and a custom leather suitcase for the roof come from specialist Sellner Group. VDO Continental Automotive has designed a new futuristic instrument cluster for the “UC?” The new cluster also houses a Swiss-made mechanical watch from Swiss premium manufacturer Carl F. Bucherer. A beautiful crystal ‘tank lid’ from Swarovski covers the necessary 230-volt plug. A stylized laser-cut coil filament embedded in the crystal lid serves as a battery charge indicator: red=empty, orange=half charged, green=fully charged. Rinspeed wants to change the electric drive’s image: The “E” signifying the electric drive isn’t shamefully hidden but displayed openly and proudly: “Look here, I drive with electric power”.

The “UC?” is designed to be available in several distinct versions: The “Ultimate Commuter” is the comfortable lifestyle vehicle for urban commuters. The vehicle of choice for pizza deliveries, mail carriers and workmen in general will be the “Unlimited Commuter.” The experts from renowned A.T. Kearney Consultants designed the modular production strategy to ensure that the car will be built as cost efficient as possible. The ultimate goal is to serve many different types of use and configuration variations: It will take just three days to build an electric car. There is a good chance the “UC?” will enter series production. The concept is designed be easily adapted and integrated by volume manufacturers. Intensive dialogues at the highest levels are already well underway.

At the Geneva Motor Show 2010 Frank M. Rinderknecht demonstrates clearly how serious he is when it comes to mobility: While the other jewels of individual mobility develop flat spots in their tires on the various show stands, the globular “UC?” will turn in laps on a track covered with artificial fur from Sibu Design. Rinspeed guests can relax in a comfortable lounge furnished by Xmobil. HD displays from Sharp will feature high-def information about the “UC?” Every successful presentation relies on perfectly printed material: Fotorotar prints all “UC?” press kits and calendars at the highest level of quality. “Die Agentur” is in charge of the communication concept for the “UC?” from planning and designing the press kit and partner literature to the production of the introductory video. Hiwave contributes a Bluetooth marketing system for the Rinspeed exhibit at the show that provides visitors with information about the “UC?” and its partners.

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