Never at a loss for innovative approaches to automotive design, the Swiss firm Rinspeed Design is readying its latest take on shape-shifting/low-emission mobility. Formally slated to bow in at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show next March, the iChange packs a 130-kW (174 horsepower) electric motor and a unique ability to adapt to varying passenger count by means of its "electronic trick-tail". According to Rinspeed's founder and idea man Frank M. Rinderknecht, that bit of yet-to-be-detailed wizardry will allow the iChange to reconfigure itself from a streamlined teardrop shape to a compact sportsvan, while seating space increases from one to three.
In describing the exercise, Rinderknecht notes that "Thinking about variability and the constantly changing energy demand, we have created an extremely flexible vehicle. The result is a zero-emission car featuring both extremely low weight and aerodynamic drag, thus further reducing the power consumption."
This type of aggressively outside-the-box thinking is nothing new for the troops at Rinspeed. Last year, the firm offered an equally ambitious take on what began life as a Lotus Elise. Called the sQuba, this zero-emission roadster was fitted with a trio of electric motors, one to drive it on land and two others that provided motive force when it was being "flown" underwater, a feat that it could manage at depths of up to 33 feet.