Rinspeed’s Zero Emission sQuba
Go ahead and day dream, it’s supposedly good for you and you can have what ever you want without costing a dime. Need a subject? Well picture this; the futuristic 2 door sportster “sQuba” is a James Bond inspired, zero-emissions, electric aqua-car from CEO Frank M. Rinderknecht and the geniuses at Swiss Rinspeed Design Company. The sQuba “moves like a fish in water” to depths of up to 33 feet (10 meters) and still manages to reach speeds of around 75mph (120kmh) when on dry land. In the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, 007 dove below the waves in a futuristic vehicle that moments before seemed to be an ‘ordinary’ car. Well, that really didn’t happen – it was movie magic. Not only is this vehicle real, it’s better because it’s green. The zero-emissions sQuba can transport a driver and passenger in its open cockpit design which is intended to allow the occupants easy escape, in case of emergency. When underwater, the occupants breathe air carried in the vehicle through scuba-style rebreathers and without occupants the sQuba will surface automatically.
The twin water jets mounted on rotating louvers at the front of the vehicle provide steering and lift while it is underwater and the propellers at the rear provide forward movement. On dry land a single 54 kW electric rear-wheel drive powertrain, utilizing rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, powers the sQuba allowing it to achieve 0-50 mph (0-80kmh) in 7.1 seconds. In the water it will do 4 mph (6 kmh) on the surface and 1.5 mph (3 kmh) underwater.
The sQuba features powerful yet energy-saving LED lighting technology and employs carbon nano-tubes to keep the weight down and buoyancy just right. It floats on the surface until the operator floods the interior to submerge. It is designed to “fly” when underwater like a submarine, not to drive along the surface at the bottom of the water. The salt-water resistant interior of the one-off (Lotus Elise) concept is built to stand the punishment of a marine environment and yet able to feature genuine mother-of-pearl trim and diamond-plated non-slip inlays. The high-tech instrument cluster and controls create a futuristic ambiance and allow controlling all vehicle functions even while submerged.
But that’s not all! On terra firma the sQuba can drive entirely autonomously (without a driver), at the touch of a button made possible by laser technology called LUX from the Hamburg-based company, Ibeo. LUX laser sensors permit a variety of driver assistance functions using one single small device, such as automatic emergency braking, pedestrian protection, collision protection, traffic jam assistant and others.
Rinderknecht sai d that because they have used a zero emission engine, it was very clear from the beginning to minimize the pollution in every aspect, especially because this vehicle also moves in the precious element of water. All the lubricants and greases in use are made rapidly biodegradable.
The prototype cost more than $1.5 million to build. When the sQuba enters production, they are expected to “cost less than a Rolls-Royce”, according to Rinderknecht.
Rinderknecht is known for his extraordinary automotive creations. The acknowledged James Bond enthusiast kept revisiting that scene in his mind over and over: “For three decades I have tried to imagine how it might be possible to build a car that can fly under water. Now we have made this dream come true. The sQuba lets me be one with the elements and lets me immerse myself in a new and fascinating world. It is our duty to protect this world in which we are guests to the best of our ability.”
If Rinspeed can devote enough resources to a concept car obviously marketed as a “toy for rich people”, yet at the same time ensure that the vehicle maintain an environmental consciousness, that should be a wake up call to those who would steer away from ecological innovation and continue to toe the status quo line.
I take my green-dreaming – shaken, not stirred.
…. as the green future unfolds.
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