MIT's "City Car" Aims to Ease City Congestion, Pollution
November 7, 2007 12:36 PM
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MIT City Car conceptual drawing
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
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 "
" 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
11/8/2007 2:28:00 PM
> "And your mistake lies in thinking what you possibly need is identical to what everyone else may possibly need."
I don't think that's what he was getting at at all.
> "First of all, wagons are not "far more economical". Look at the MPG figures for modern station wagons of the same size and weight as an SUV. They're usually a couple more MPG better-- that's it. In fact, the "crossover" car category is just this. Its a slightly taller station wagon, built on a car chassis, rather than a truck platform."
Looking at the Fuel Efficiency of SUVs vs. that of Wagons and controlling for size and weight doesn't seem very fair as weight and size are highly correlated with fuel efficiency.
> "Second of all, wagons are not "equally as versatile", especially for anyone who occasionally needs to tow something, or travel on rough roads."
Of course. And, for someone who does that - they should buy an SUV or something that handles those cases well. But, I think what Brandon is getting at is that you can do a lot more than you think with a small wagon.
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