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First Look: Rinspeed MicroMax

My, your, our car?

by on Dec.11, 2012

Part car, part bus, the Rinspeed MicroMax Concept will debut at the Geneva Motor Show.

One of the big draws of the annual Geneva Motor Show is the assortment of odd and unusual brands we’re likely never to see anywhere else – certainly not during the rest of the auto show season. And few brands are likely to deliver more quirky surprises than Rinspeed.

The Swiss-based engineering house has made a specialty of coming up with odd and unusual concept vehicles that can fly, swim and, yes, even drive. Rinspeed’s emphasis in recent years has been on products designed for urban environments, like the matchbox-sized UC? and the Dock+Go electric, which could be loaded on a train for trips longer than its batteries could handle.

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This year, Rinspeed founder Frank Rinderknecht has come up with another oddball design that nonetheless boasts just enough good ideas to get us to sit up and take notice.  Like the earlier Dock+Go, MicroMax is designed to merge personal and public transportation into one vehicle, summed up by the odd declaimer: “My, your, our car.”

“Modern ride share centers nowadays are web-based or Smartphone-based,” Rinderknecht points out. “They operate in real time: You need to go to work on a regular basis or want to go somewhere right now and in no time at all you find the driver that’ll give you a ride. “microMAX” with its unique upright seats is the perfect ‘thing’ for swift short-distance transfers – the car to go with the app.”

Measuring barely 12 feet in length – or about the size of a Mini – the MicroMax has an unusually spacious interior because of its space-saving “upright seats” and a height of just over 7 feet.  Think of it as a sort of micro-bus.

For those who dread the morning commute and max the local Starbucks their first stop, the MicroMax can shave a few minutes – and a few dollars – off the morning routine with its built-in coffee maker.  And for the journey home after a long day there’s a refrigerator, Rinspeed notes, “for the passengers’ happy-hour drinks.”

There’s also onboard WiFi and other connectivity links to allow for more productive – or entertaining – drive time.

As with other recent Rinspeed vehicles, the MicroMax uses a pure battery-electric drivetrain, though there’s no details on range or charging time.

And for those who might have other needs in a vehicle, the quirky little micro-bus has a variety of plug-in “equipment models” that Rinspeed claims would make a perfect fit for craftsmen or delivery services.

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