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MIT City Car conceptual drawing  (Source:
MIT dreams up a rentable, stackable, all-electric car for cities

America just seems to be obsessed with large vehicles. Maybe it’s our expanding waistlines, image consciousness or our "You can't tell me what to do, so I'm gonna buy whatever I want" mentality that persuades people to transport junior in a Suburban, go grocery shopping with a Tundra CrewMax or take Fido to the get his yearly shot in an Escalade EXT.

With rising gas prices, an increasing attention to our consumption of fossil fuels, an increasing awareness of vehicle emissions and expanding city centers, many are looking for more cost effective and efficient ways of transporting people in metropolitan areas. MIT Media Lab's Smart Cities group is thinking small with a new stackable car to reduce emissions and congestion in and around city centers.

The MIT "City Car" would be an all-electric vehicle capable of carrying two passengers and their cargo. The vehicles would be located near train stations, bus terminals and airports to ferry travelers to their final destination.

"The problem with mass transit is it kind of takes you to where you want to go and at the approximate time you want to get there, but not exactly," said Ph.D. candidate Franco Vairani of MIT's school of architecture. "Sometimes you have to walk up to a mile from the last train or subway stop."

The City Car will be stackable -- the entire back end of the vehicle would rise up allowing as many as eight of the vehicles to fit into a conventional parking space. The vehicle itself would also be mechanically simple with the electric motor, steering system and suspension enclosed within the wheel hubs.

The vehicle is said to weigh between 1,000 to 1,200 pounds and will be powered by lithium-ion batteries. According to Vairani, there could also be multiple versions of the City Car to accommodate a certain city's needs. A City Car destined for use in New York City might have a less powerful battery and a lower top speed due to traffic congestion. In other cities where interstate travel is more frequent, more powerful batteries capable of propelling the City Car faster and farther could be used.

If all goes well, MIT will show a prototype of the City Car sometime next year.

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RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By TomZ on 11/7/2007 4:49:32 PM , Rating: -1
Brandon, why do you consider an SUV "bad" and minivans "good"? That distinction doesn't make any sense, since both classes of vehicles are about the same in terms of size, capacity, and fuel efficiency. It's really only in the style that is different.

Anyway, how about if we let people buy whatever kinds of vehicles they want and stop criticising them for their choices.

Any by the way, your entire car will practically fit inside the back of my minivan, so don't tell me the two have the same cargo space. :o)

RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Brandon Hill on 11/7/2007 4:55:39 PM , Rating: 4
I said that everyone is entitled to their own choices. That doesn't mean that I can't add my two cents ;)

As for minivans vs SUVs, minivans have always had more maximum cargo room and versatility. Especially as a people mover. Sliding doors > swing out doors when trying to get as many people in/out at once and ease entry/exit.

Maximum cargo capacity
GMC Acadia (largest crossover available): 117 cu ft
Honda Odyssey: 147 cu ft.

RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By TomZ on 11/7/07, Rating: -1
By Brandon Hill on 11/7/2007 5:14:03 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't say it was more ethical, just easier for ferrying people and getting babies in and out ;)

Comparing the Odyssey to an Acadia is a somewhat fair fight due to pricing and fuel economy. Throw in the Escalade ESV (your 137 cu ft figure), and it's at a huge disadvantage as far as pricing and fuel economy goes.

The Suburban and Yukon XL aren't cheap either.

RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Screwballl on 11/12/2007 3:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
try a 04 or newer Durango... the rear doors swing out to 90º rather than 60-70º like most vehicles. This makes it much easier getting kids out of the back.
The reason we did not go for the minivan was the same as my original post, my height and long legs. Even with the seat all the way back I still felt cramped in the minivans.
In my case the SUV works out better.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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