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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 FITCamaro on 11/8/2007 9:39:56 AM , Rating: 2
For me it comes down to buy what you need. While yes you might actually use your SUV for things. Many people don't. Me personally, I'm not looking to be the driving bitch for all my friends so we can all go in one car. I buy the car I like and if people can't ride with me, tough.

To me if you often tow or transport a lot of things, a SUV is a justifiable purchase. If you are a single 25 year old guy, who bought it so you can look "gangsta" by putting giant spinner rims and 3000W of sound equipment in it, or to "look like a man", a SUV is not a justifiable purchase. If you have one kid and claim you need it to fit all your stuff in, you're full of it. A Vue or other smaller SUV will work fine.

I work with people who drive big SUVs. While I have no malice toward them, with gas prices where they are, I wonder why the hell they'd want to drive one. Sure many of the guys have boats. But get a truck. It's going to at least get a little better mileage.

And the point of a "luxury SUV" is just retarded. An SUV is supposed to haul crap. Not just look pretty and show off how much money you have. To me an SUV is a Tahoe or an Expedition. Simple, powerful. Almost no one with an Escalade is ever going to get theirs dirty.

As far as the topic at hand, you'd have to put a gun to my head to get me in one of those. Something other than one of those hits you, you're dead.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By masher2 (blog) on 11/8/2007 11:10:49 AM , Rating: 4
> "As far as the topic at hand, you'd have to put a gun to my head to get me in one of those."

I'd be more interested in seeing how you get your car out of its parking slot, when four more are folder in front and in back of it.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By Rovemelt on 11/10/2007 10:05:27 AM , Rating: 3
I believe the idea is that the cars are essentially rented per use. So you simply take the empty car nearest to you and rent it per hour and then park it in an approved spot when you're done renting. There are car-share programs in some cities around the country where you use your cell phone to rent one of many rental cars parked around the city. For people living in very densely populated areas where having your own parking space is impossibly expensive, something like this makes real sense. From what I've read, it seems like the car sharing businesses in the US are thriving.


RE: so much for unbiased opinions
By mindless1 on 11/11/2007 6:44:36 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, it would seem they're thinking everyone is going to swap cars with rental kiosks but the problem with this is there's no mention of a check-in inspection between one person and the next using the car, so there's less accountability for damage or just making a mess with food or whatnot, then leaving that mess behind.

As for parking, getting out of a stack is not a problem as per the linked MIT page,
http://www.news.com/MIT-offers-City-Car-for-the-ma...

quote:
These "electric robot wheels" as they are called, would allow the City Car to be collapsible, stackable, and spin on a dime for sideways movement and easier parking, according to Lark. "So you really treat this like a Lego brick you snap onto a cabin," said Lark.


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