Part car, part train - is this the vehicle of the future?

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The Independent Travel

Amongst all the bright ideas due to debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the wackiest could be the best.

Imagine a world where all urban driving is undertaken in small electric cars, ideally suited to regular, short distance trips. For longer city-to-city journeys, these cars are mounted on special rail carriages that depart regularly and cover the distance at high speed. No range problems, no motorway traffic jams and most importantly, no emissions.

It may sound too good to be true, but that's the vision of serial entrepreneur Frank M. Rinderknecht, who will present his new UC? concept at the Geneva Motor Show which begins on March 4. Rinderknecht is best known for producing the sQuba, an underwater car that was unveiled at Geneva in 2008. This time, his goal was to integrate individual car ownership and public transportation.

"I can make more efficient use of my time than spending it driving on a boring highway," says Rinderknecht. "I'd rather visit the train restaurant or retreat to work in my car."

According to Rinderknecht the tiny UC? has a range of 105 kilometres and can reach a top speed of 120 km/h. As 82 percent of road trips in Europe cover distances less than 60 kilometres, the UC? is ideal for urban use. As a two seater, it's not an ideal family car, but its high tech 3G communication system allows voice and video calling, music downloads and email directly from the driver's seat.

The current sticking point of electric cars, long distance journeys, is addressed by the production of custom railcars that can load and unload numerous UC? vehicles at the same time. During the rail journey, the UC? is automatically charged and drivers can sleep, leave their vehicles to visit the restaurant or use other amenities on the train.

Rinderknecht's firm is already in discussion with international railroad companies about the new mobility concept and believes that its design is ready for future production. It won't be the only green concept at Geneva - Hyundai, Citroen, Vauxhall and Peugeot are all known to be readying debuts - but it's certainly one of the moist imaginative.

Website: http://www.rinspeed.com

 

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