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MIT City Car conceptual drawing  (Source: SciFi.com)
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 jak3676 on 11/7/2007 7:23:31 PM , Rating: 3
One of the biggest reasons that Europeans get smaller cars is so they can fit them on the roads. Trying to bring full sized American SUV's to Europe just doesn't work. They don't fit on the inner city roads, there is no place to park them, and they won't fit into any garage.

I had my 2005 Honda Pilot (mid-sized SUV) in Germany for about a year. It was a great car, but just too darn big over there. We drove downtown Paris and I swear we were the biggest car on the road.

We've just replaced it with a Honda Odyssey - easier to get babies in/out, more usable space, and a little better MPG.


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