“We are pacemakers for urban mobility,” said Dr. Annette Winkler, CEO of smart, just before they pulled the cover off the concept you see here.
The concept is called the smart vision EQ fortwo. It looks about like the current smart fortwo except for a pair of big, round doors and the missing steering wheel and pedals. Those differences are there because the vision EQ is autonomous. A theoretical future city dweller would summon something like this smart vision EQ fortwo using a smartphone, the car would come running to the summoner like a happy puppy, with the words, “Hi Fred!” (or whomever) on the front, and Fred would climb in and be whisked to his destination. Or, the user could indicate he or she was willing to share the ride and the system software would find a compatible co-rider.
When not carrying passengers, the car would find a place to recharge its batteries through wireless inductive charging. It could even drive itself to a service center when maintenance is called for, though maintenance on an electric car is minimal.
This is the future smart envisions for you.
The smart vision EQ fortwo is built around four assumptions about what will be needed for a city car in the future, and it incorporates all four of them in its design:
1. It will be shared. Unlike contemporary cars, which are owned by one person and are used only by him or her (and only for a small portion of the day), the vision EQ would be used by multiple riders each day. It would be similar to the operating model of car2go, which already has a presence in several cities around the world.
2. The transportation future will also be autonomous, something required for this car sharing model to work. As smart says, “… users do not have to look for the next available car — it will find them.”
3. The cars will all be connected, as they would have to be to work with so many different passengers.
4. And, to keep the air in the cities they serve clean, vision EQs would have to be electric. These cars would have rechargeable 30 kWh lithium-ion batteries onboard, with access to inductive recharging stations.
In the future, driving in the city won’t be like it is today. In fact, it won’t even be driving, it’ll be riding. But how much enjoyable driving do you do in city centers anyway? It’s not like you’re carving apexes during rush hour as you commute to and from downtown wherever. For much of the time spent behind the wheel, you’re just sitting there. You might as well be sitting in a car that drives you and frees you up to do something else.
smart says that with enough cars like this they could cut the number of vehicles in cities in half. That’s something we can all get behind.