The latest bizarre concept vehicle from Swiss company Rinspeed is the microMAX, a tiny four-seater designed primarily for carpooling duties. The idea is that up to three strangers can use a smartphone app to book a ride in the back of your microMAX, allowing for easier carpooling opportunities. It will debut next spring at the Geneva Motor Show.
RInspeed is no stranger to unusual concept cars — at past Geneva shows the Swiss company has shown the backpack-like Dock+Go concept and the golf cart-esque BamBoo concept. The microMax, meanwhile, looks like a scaled-down bus. It’s about the size of a Mini Cooper, at 141.7 inches long, but its 86.6-inch height allows for much more headroom than other compact cars. The driver sits centrally at the front of the vehicle, while three passengers (or two adults and two children) occupy the rear compartment.
The all-electric car would be linked to a smartphone app that allows strangers to request a ride — similar to existing car-sharing apps available in the U.S. The main difference is that the rear compartment is specifically designed for giving rides to strangers: there’s a coffee machine, fridge for storing “happy hour drinks,” and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. In other words, the passengers get to relax and drink in the back while a stranger drives them to or from work. No wonder Rinspeed uses the cheery tagline, “My, your, our car!”
“microMAX aims to encourage potential passengers to get in and ride because it is extremely convenient and simple,” explains Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht. “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.”
Whether or not this system would work in the real world remains to be seen. Would drivers tolerate driving strangers around on their commute, and would passengers be brave enough to trust riding in the rear compartment of a stranger’s vehicle? Rinspeed doesn’t concern itself with such practical concerns. Look for the microMAX concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013.