Inflatable electric car can drive off cliffs

Jun 04, 2008 by Lisa Zyga weblog
XP Vehicles
Some of XP Vehicles´ designs in development. The company hopes to have a prototype of the inflatable electric car by the end of the year, with production in 2010 at the earliest.

It's hard to say what the most intriguing thing about XP Vehicles' inflatable car is. Maybe it's that the car can travel for up to 2,500 miles on a single electric charge (the distance across the US is roughly 3,000 miles).

Or maybe it's the fact that you buy the car online, it gets shipped to you in two cardboard boxes, and the estimated assembly time is less than two hours. Perhaps it's that the car is made out of "airbags" - the same polymer materials used to cushion NASA's rovers when they landed on Mars. Then again, it could be the company's claim that you can drive the car off a cliff without serious injury, and that it will float in a flood or tsunami.

Together, these features characterize the Whisper, XP Vehicles' solution to the oil crisis. The company doesn't expect the car to be in production until 2010 at the earliest, but when it is, it will hopefully be an extremely affordable $10,000 or less. XP Vehicles envisions four body styles, along with a special low-priced model for the Southeast Asian market.

As the San Francisco-based start-up explains on its Web site, the miracle behind the 2,500-mile range is a "hot-swap XPack Multi-Core Battery/Fuel Cell power plant" invented by the founders of XP Vehicles. Or, without the hot-swap technology, the car can travel up to 300 miles on a single charge, thanks to its light weight.

XP Vehicles hopes to have a prototype developed by the end of the year, and will begin working on built-to-order vehicles for its OEM partners only. Later, it plans to sell to dealers, who will assemble the vehicle before selling to consumers.

In the future, individuals may also order online, pick out their desired features as if customizing a PC, and receive the car by a common carrier. Options will include iPod mounts, 20 colors, trim, decals, roof/no roof, car covers, solar mounts, stereos, integrated pumps, home connections, GPS, battery clubs, alarms, and more. Two adults with a high school education should be able to unpack and inflate the car in less than two hours, according to the company. And, if you don´t have enough room in the garage, some models even fold up after assembly for storage. Other models "can change bodies" (details on that are sparse).

Different models of the car will be made of various polymers, carbon fiber, and/or other strong, ultra-light-weight materials - the same stuff that protected the Mars rovers´ sensitive electronics as they fell and bounced along the planet´s surface. XP Vehicles claims that the car will be one of the safest on the road for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

"Research shows that the metal in your car is the largest cause of death and injury," the company explains on its Web site. "The shrapnel, body compression immobility, lung compression, dismemberment and other serious results of a crash are most often caused by the inflexibility of metal and the permanent deformation of the body of the metal car around or into your body. Hence the need for, and name of, the Jaws of Life."

For another thing, the car won´t "blow off the road," due to a special ballast and aerodynamic design features which make the car very stable. An inflatable car might even provide additional safety measures in certain circumstances, such as if someone were to accidentally drive it off a cliff - although the company says that it´s not intended for this use.

If you´re concerned that an inflatable car may be too tempting for a tire-slashing juvenile delinquent, XP Vehicles says that their car bodies are actually pretty difficult to pierce. The cars have multiple chambers, so a single slice wouldn´t pop it like a balloon - "somebody would really have to go at it" to cause major damage, the company says. And, in the case of vandalism, you can repair it yourself.

Whether it´s legal to drive an inflatable car on the road will depend on local ordinances, which dealers or individual buyers will be responsible for knowing. But, as XP Vehicles estimates a $200 billion market for alternative energy vehicles, changes in regulations seem inevitable.

XP Vehicles is not releasing specific vehicle data until an official launch, which will be announced after the company receives various safety certification papers.

More information: http://www.xpcarteam.com

via: Gizmodo

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User comments : 16

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zevkirsh
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 04, 2008
this sounds like an advertisement for something that has been designed but not protyped or tested. if i had to bet, i bet it's never gonna happen.
z
ezezz
3.3 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2008
This is probably too reasonable to catch on.

I mean.. think of all the lives we'd save if everyone was driving one of these cushy bumper cars.
wellfeded
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 04, 2008
Sounds like a blowup doll for the movie
"Cars"
1bigschwantz
2.3 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2008
Just 1 thing...A/C. Gotta keep cool in the summer. If its affordable and has A/C it may be worth a try.
Mercury_01
3.8 / 5 (5) Jun 04, 2008
This, I gotta see. its even more wierd than the pneumatic powered car. I laugh incredulously.
am_Unition
4.2 / 5 (6) Jun 04, 2008
So now instead of people slashing your tires, they can do the whole car? That kinda sucks.
TCB
4.6 / 5 (5) Jun 04, 2008
The laws of physics (and practical cars) still apply. The steering mechanism and brake pedal must still be essentially incompressible, along with the wheels, axles, bearings, electric motor, and batteries. All these elements possess inertia, and they will, if not constrained, continue own their merry way if for some reason the inflatable car stops suddenly (such as the bottom of a cliff)
zevkirsh
4 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2008
putting hydraulics on this for a snoop dog video would make them jump up like 4 -5 feet!
Soylent
2.8 / 5 (5) Jun 04, 2008
So now instead of people slashing your tires, they can do the whole car? That kinda sucks.


"If you´re concerned that an inflatable car may be too tempting for a tire-slashing juvenile delinquent, XP Vehicles says that their car bodies are actually pretty difficult to pierce. The cars have multiple chambers, so a single slice wouldn´t pop it like a balloon - "somebody would really have to go at it" to cause major damage, the company says. And, in the case of vandalism, you can repair it yourself."
paulo
3 / 5 (7) Jun 05, 2008
Battery/"Fuel Cell" power plant? You want to get more nebulous than that?

investment scam. pretty funny though.
ontheinternets
3 / 5 (3) Jun 05, 2008
I've often had ideas like this.. but I would never be naive enough to allow them to share the road with cargo transport vehicles. With separate infrastructure dedicated for human transport, lighter-weight vehicles would be more practical.
tcf
3 / 5 (2) Jun 05, 2008
Obviously a hoax
jfk
3.5 / 5 (4) Jun 07, 2008
Eliminating most fender-benders, licensing teens for inflatables only for TWO years, reducing the cost of collision insurance and car-care-costs w/no oil changes, filters and plugs.

They may look silly but make more sense than SUVS (selfish, useless, vanity sedans), while reducing the carbon foot print and ceasing the funneling cash to the nations that oppose us.

Wake up America! Together we can change our perilous destination. It's doable! Let's do it!
Zig158
4 / 5 (2) Jun 11, 2008
Their idea defiantly makes sense, maybe a little to much sense. It is just like having air bags but on the outside. Just think how much money could be saved if fender benders did no damage.
Khooper
not rated yet Nov 10, 2008
Research shows that the metal in your car (cargo liners) is the largest cause of death and injury,' the company explains on its Web site. 'The shrapnel, body compression immobility, lung compression, dismemberment and other serious results of a crash are most often caused by the inflexibility of metal and the permanent deformation of the body of the metal car around or into your body.
marsbeyond
not rated yet Dec 05, 2008
That airbag material is vectran. Good luck cutting it! They make ropes for oil tankers out of it too. If your wheels have electric hub motors there is no rigid mechanical drivetrain to hurt you. I have not figured out how to do low drag inflatable windows though. They may need to be rigid.