While this may sound more like a vehicle designed for 2050, but it will actually be on display at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show . Called the "XchangE Concept," this vehicle was designed by the Swiss company Rinspeed , and the company plans to revolutionize the automotive industry with it.
The new "XchangE" concept is all about autonomous driving and making long trips even more enjoyable. The concept is "smart" enough to drive autonomously up to 120 km/h (74 mph), while the driver and the passengers read, listen to music, surf the web, play games, watch movies or any other activity besides driving.
A very cool feature of the new concept is the seats, which are inspired by the relaxing business-class seats of an airliner, with a world-record-setting 20 functionalities built in. Thanks to the new seats, the driver is not obligated to stare at the road, as he can also rotate the seat and talk with the rest of the passengers or watch TV on the 32-inch high-definition screen.
Not much is known about what changes Rinspeed has done to the Tesla Model S on which the XchangE is built from, so we suspect the Tesla ’s standard fare of 60- or 85-kHw electrical systems to be used.
The thought of never having to fight the morning rush hour or keep yourself awake on a late-night road trip sounds very enticing. Plus, being able to control the car when the roads got twisty or when trying some 5.4-second 0 to 60 mph runs in the 85 kWh model, might be the best of both worlds.
Full details on the Rinspeed XchangE Concept will be revealed during its official debut in Geneva, but click past the jump for what we know so far.
Click past the jump to read more about the new Rinspeed XchangE Concept.
"Outside, the Tesla Model S’ roots show through"
Outside, the Tesla Model S’ roots show through. Its elegant lines and purposeful styling have made it a great car for Rinspeed to build a concept from. The front fascia has received some minor changes – namely the EKG heart monitor/lightening bolt shooting across the grille.
The car’s rear fascia got a little massaging to make it sportier with a vent just aft of the rear tire. Mostly separates the Rinspeed XchangE is its lime-green color and matte accents. We’re sure other colors would be available if this ever moved into production, but for now it remains a concept.
This is where the big new lies. A completely reworked instrument panel with information screen spanning from end to end holds up the cantilevered steering wheel, gear selector, and glass-encased Carl F. Bucherer wristwatch perched just above.
"Once the automated driving is initiated, the steering wheel simply moves and “parks” itself in the center of the dashboard"
Once the automated driving is initiated, the steering wheel simply moves and “parks” itself in the center of the dashboard, giving the most space to the driver without impeding the passenger’s space either. The car will command itself up to a speed of 74 mph and will likely (not real details from Rinspeed) navigate you start to finish completely on its own.
Turn the two front seats around and fold the rear seatback down for viewing the 32-inch flatscreen TV embedded in the car. An espresso machine sits in the center console between the driver and passenger for those long commutes to the office. Ambient mood lighting also helps set the tone while the panoramic glass roof helps keep the cabin open and airy.
The idea of totally leaving the car to drive frees up the occupants to do whatever they wish. When this idea of total automated driving comes to market, we suspect the entrepreneurs, CEOs, and busy professions will be among the early adopters as they can work while underway.
The drivetrain will likely be very similar to what underpins the Tesla Model S. Perhaps Rinspeed will go beyond modifying the base 60 kWh car, moving further up into the Model S lineup, perhaps reaching the P85 kWh. That combination would allow for the best of both situations – a driverless car for the weekdays going to work, and the high-performance track star on the weekends.
It’s not know how much extra juice the new electronics in the XchangE would drain from the Tesla’s batteries, but perhaps by the time this sort of technology hits the streets, that drain will be negligible.
When can I drive one?
It’s highly unlikely we’ll ever get to drive the Rinspeed XchangE due to its one-off nature. Rinspeed is more of a development/Think Tank company that specializes in reaching for the stars. It is, however, highly likely that within the next 10 years or so, driverless cars and automated driving systems will be commonplace on the roads. We’re excited about the possibility of non-enthusiasts having access to driverless cars. The number of accidents should fall fairly significantly with less distracted, drunk, and sleep-deprived driving going on.
Currently, there are no fully-automated cars in production. There are, however, a number of companies developing the technology including Cadillac, Nissan , Mercedes , and even Google. As these systems grow more and more advanced, their popularity will continue to grow. Rinspeed’s example in the XchangE seems to be more focused on what the driver does during his off time than about how the system actually moves the car down the road while not killing anyone.
As the production of automated cars grows ever closer, we stand divided on whether the idea is one we like. In one regard, not being required to drive will be a warm welcome on long road trips or fighting the morning commute through hordes of traffic jams. Another positive is providing a smarter driving system for those who need the extra help piloting a two-ton mass of metal and those who would otherwise drive distracted. Yet we fear possible legislation requiring driverless cars on public streets, thereby rendering the pleasure of driving a thing of the past.
Stay tuned to TopSpeed when more information comes to light at the Geneva Auto show in early March.
- Amazing interior functionality
- Relax while "big brother" drives you to work
- Possibility of fewer accidents with everyone going driverless
- Takes the joy out of driving
- Who’s at fault if it were to crash?
- Still years away
Gallery Rinspeed XchangE Concept
Traveling in business-class style redefined with innovative Harman infotainment concept.
Autonomous driving is set to become reality in the near future. While the major automakers are putting the finishing touches on the technology, the Swiss idea factory Rinspeed puts man at the center of the autonomous car. At the 2014 Geneva Motor Show Rinspeed presents the "XchangE" study to the public in a world premiere. It demonstrates how cars will ‘move’ us just a few short years from now, in both senses of the word. Frank M. Rinderknecht describes the status quo like this: “So far hardly anyone has taken this to its logical conclusion from the perspective of the driver. After all, traveling in a driverless car will no longer require me to stare at the road, but will let me spend my time in a more meaningful way.“ And then he poses the key question: How will the interior of a vehicle have to be designed to let the now largely unburdened driver make optimal use of the gain in time?
The Swiss company provides the answer with an all-electric touring sedan by the name of “XchangE”. In best Helvetic tradition it was engineered by 4erC and built at Esoro. The vehicle features all-new seats reminiscent of the relaxing business-class seats of major airlines. The basic idea behind the seats that offer a host of adjustment, tilting and swiveling options comes from Otto Bock Mobility Solutions, arguably the most renowned manufacturer of medical prosthetics worldwide. This results in more than twenty possible seating arrangements - a world record. The futuristic TRW steering wheel with hands-on recognition, drive-mode-manager display in the rim and transparent multifunction keys with ambiance lighting can simply be “parked” in the middle of the instrument panel together with the innovative lightweight steering column with bionic design from Georg Fischer Automotive. This feat is made possible by the multi-redundant “steer-by-wire” technology developed by Swabian Company Paravan, similar to what can be found on modern jet aircraft. It is therefore no wonder that the smart automotive visionary with a wink negates the famous advertising slogan that has become a popular phrase: “Not even flying is better from now on!”
Passengers will be able to assume virtually any seating or resting position when traveling in a fully autonomous vehicle in the future, which will require a completely new operating and display concept. It is supplied by infotainment specialist Harman. The new concept uses the manufacturer’s all-new next-generation scalable infotainment platform, which is based on HTML5 and provides comprehensive protection against hacker attacks. In the “XchangE” it offers numerous functions for navigation, entertainment, assistance and services that are displayed on a total of four screens. A 1.2-meter-wide display strip in the steering-wheel support provides important information in wide-screen format. A 32-inch 4K monitor in the rear transforms the “XchangE” into a highly comfortable on-demand UHD movie theatre on wheels. It is controlled with simple gestures.
Of course the “XchangE” is also fully networked with the outside world. The in-car consolidation of real-time sensor data that is crucial for “Car2X” communications is handled by the infotainment system, which communicates with the Cloud via an integrated LTE module. Deutsche Telekom and its fast LTE network provide the secure data transmission. All incoming vehicle data - from the Harman infotainment system and other vehicle systems - are compiled and analyzed on a standardized “Business-to-Car” platform of Deutsche Telekom. The intelligent links to numerous other online data sources thus create travel-specific Cloud services such as warning messages or recommendations on route and driving profiles, which are available to all road users in real time. The more vehicles and service providers are networked via the manufacturer-independent “Business-to-Car” platform, the more everyone traveling by car benefits from added safety and convenience.
An intelligent access control system that uses RFID technology to identify the authorized driver or drivers switches on the essential functions of the “XchangE“. It comes from the parts portfolio of forklift manufacturer Linde Material Handling. As on the company’s forklifts and other materials handling equipment, the technical signals from the sensors and the vehicle control system are compiled by the “connect:” data-logging unit and transmitted continuously to the Cloud via the T network. The software of the “connect:” unit makes it possible to analyze all operating data and generate reports, for example for fleet operators.
The avant-garde interior concept developed by Strähle+Hess ensures a unique feel-good atmosphere. It is made of textiles whose blue and gray gradations create a maritime flair. These calming colors reinforce the relaxation effect while traveling in the “XchangE”. The focus of the textile development was in particular on the touch and feel of the fabrics, and the raw materials were selected to individually tailor their characteristics to the various comfort zones. Natural resources such as Merino wool and silk were also used, which were processed by Schoeller spinning mill from Bregenz, Austria. As a result there are intelligent yarns in the intelligent car.
The revolutionary Plexiglas roof from Evonik Industries ensures a striking appearance. It features “Radiant” surface coating and shimmers in all colors of the rainbow. 358 individually controlled LEDs in the “EndLighten” headliner and another 98 in the instrument panel create an individual feel-good atmosphere. This innovative LED technology was supplied by Swiss Company Weidmann Plastics Technology. Numerous additional Plexiglas elements in front and rear fascia, rocker panels and rear spoiler, which were all created by refinement specialist Mansory, are also supplied by Evonik chemicals group. They were processed and hardened and tempered by KRD in Geesthacht before being mounted using adhesives and sealants from Sika. A high-end PTC heater from Stuttgart-based system partner and source of inspiration Eberspächer ensures cozy warmth.
Towering above everything in the moveable steering column is the world’s arguably most expensive watch winder. Swiss watchmaker Carl F. Bucherer has implanted its PatraviTravelTec wristwatch in a transparent globe. When the car is stationary, the globe spins driven by an electric motor and in the process winds the mechanical watch movement! Crazy, playful, but somehow also ingenious and wickedly expensive.
The “XchangE” - as a Tesla evolution - is sitting on 20-inch Borbet highest-quality alloy wheels with glistening “Reflectic” finish is a true eye-catcher. However, Swiss Company Regus Management and Research focuses on the more “inner values” of the “XchangE” as an office on wheels. The specialist for office rental maintains 1,800 locations in more than 100 countries and develops new business opportunities. The company definitely sees potential for using the “XchangE” as a mobile office and traveling conference center. For this conclusion it can draw upon a study by Düsseldorf-based consulting agency A.T. Kearney Consultants, which examined the changes to the digital society that will be affected by autonomous driving in the future.
You can read, listen to music, surf the web, play games and watch movies in brilliant picture and sound quality. Or you can hold a four-party meeting at 120 km/h and work on your files while brewing a fresh cup of Italian Amici espresso. The creators of the “XchangE” are certain that autonomous driving will actually make individual travel even more attractive compared with traveling by train, plane or long-distance coach. As Rinderknecht puts it: “I am given free time that I can use for myself anyway I please, while the sensor systems and the connectivity chauffeur me safely and reliably to my destination.” Why not take the time then to get to know this extremely interesting concept car, which will be showcased at the Geneva Motor Show with publicity support from Saarbrucken-based ad agency Vollmond.
The 2014 Geneva Motor Show will take place March 6 to 16, 2014. The Rinspeed “XchangE” is already the twentieth concept vehicle of the Swiss think tank and “mobility lab”.