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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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Going the right direction
By cleco on 11/13/2007 12:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
I would love to see better transportation options in smaller metro areas like New Orleans.

I seriously ... seriously can not stand traffic... I don't understand it. Not once, did I every experience traffic on the autobahn unless someone got in an accident or there was heavy construction going on.
From my 4 years in germany I firmly believe americans can't drive.
Everyone is an a55hole when they drive.
Most don't know what a blinker is.
No one understands the concept of passing lane.
No one understands when you go up a incline you increase throttle postion so that you can maintain speed.
No one understands that if you are scared to drive on a narrow road/bridge ,while going speed limit, then get the hell off the road and get someone drive for you.
I'm tired of seeing old people who drive 10mph under the limit.
I'm tired of young douches who zig zag out of traffic causing everyone to swurve or dramatically slow down to avoid possible collision.

well enough of my rant. If people would understand better driving techniques traffic would be less, imo. Also if the goverment made better roads and intersections and got rid of dumb speed limits.

/rant off :D

RE: Going the right direction
By Grast on 11/13/2007 3:40:53 PM , Rating: 2

I have visited Germany and I am an American driver. I can say that your rant is rather accurate. I find it a cultural issue. In my summation, Germans view driving as a privledge and treat it as such. In America, American treat it as a right and trest it as such.

I will not digress into the contruction comparisons of autobahn. Additionally, I will not digress in the use of heavy trucks for transportation in America.

Suffice to say, the autobahn way of operation does not work in America due to spreadout population and 75% of all shipping ocuring by heavy trucks. We have to remember that our highways and freeways were originally designed to transfer nuclear missles during the 50's and 60's. It was this infrustructur which allowed urban sprall. We look 40 year in the future now and our expectations of the highway system is more than its original purpose.

I digress.


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