Rinspeed iChange Concept

Tom Ludwick
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Rinspeed offers an odd but innovative solution to the changing requirements in the automotive industry. The Swiss auto designer introduces the iChange, a car that changes its shape based on the number of passengers.

With room for one, two, or three passengers, the iChange is a difficult vehicle to classify. Even the company refers to it by different names calling it both a "sports car" and a "sports van." Even counting the number of doors doesn't help, because there are none. Instead, the roof slides forward and occupants enter the car as they would a fighter jet.

When there are no passengers, the iChange has a tear-drop-like appearance and it is in its most aerodynamic state. However, when a couple of buddies want to tag along, the rear end rises up and there is room for two more. The design allows the vehicle to minimize energy consumption whenever possible.

No one will accuse the iChange of being environmentally unfriendly. It is powered by lithium ion batteries that are available in two stack configurations for short or long distance driving. The batteries feed a 201 horsepower electric motor that can propel the vehicle to 62 mph in just over 4 seconds and up to a top speed of 137 mph.

Energy usage is further reduced by an intelligent infotainment system. Route guidance calculates the most energy-saving route and the whole system uses less power and weighs less than similar systems on the market. It also ties into the iChange's iPhone key.

The cabin is heated by an electric heater for short trips or an E85 powered heater for longer trips. Solar panels on the roof power fans that cool the iChange while it's parked and also charge the batteries.

Although the iChange is a simply a radical concept in typical Rinspeed fashion, boss Frank M. Rinderknecht says "The iChange is a signal for the coming global changes to individual mobility. We need to be ready to meet these challenges with new ideas." While the vehicle itself may never see mass production, the adaptive concepts of the iChange offer clever solutions to the eco-challenges in the ever-changing auto industry.

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