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Urban Transport Concept: the Naro
Jamais Cascio, 2 Feb 05

naro.jpgIt's not a motorcycle, but it plays one on the street.

The Naro is a two-person vehicle which combines motorcycle and car design elements in order to provide a mix of comfort, maneuverability, and efficiency. Co-designed by Coventry University's Art and Design course and Prodrive, a British motorsport company which makes its money providing cars for racing teams, the Naro is intended to fill a transport role similar to the Smart and other lightweight, small-footprint, high-mileage vehicles. The Naro seats two in a jet fighter-style cockpit, providing enough room for a small bit of cargo; one of the first intended applications is as a single passenger taxi.

Weighing only about 300kg, less than a third of most city cars, it is expected that the Naro will be powered by a small petrol or diesel engine giving up to 100mpg or by a new generation of fuel cell engines running on hydrogen. While designed primarily for the city, the aerodynamics of Naro means that it would be more than capable of motorway speeds.

As long as there are no crosswinds, one presumes.

The lead designer, Damian Harty, is the subject of a lengthy and fascinating article in Engineer Live, a journal for (you guessed it) engineers. The dilemmas involved in the design of a tall, slim vehicle amount to more than just how to keep it upright in a stiff breeze. The Naro will lean in turns, for example, just like a motorcycle but distinctly unlike a traditional passenger car. How will people accustomed to driving a car adjust? What's the best control mechanism -- a steering wheel, handlebars, or something entirely different, like a joystick?

The design is reminiscent of never-to-be-brought-to-market vehicles from Toyota and MIT: the vehicle of the future, it seems, will look something like a moon buggy crossed with a Mac Mini. Despite its concept-car looks, the Naro is apparently on its way to production by the aptly-named Narrow Car Company. Sales will be to European markets at first.

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lengthen the wheel base a bit and tilt the cab more so that it has a lower profile and the passenger and driver recline more (possibly with a heads up display on the windshield/roof displaying the road rather than just looking out the window, I know thats a little sci/fi but it would help the kewl factor), then put a front passenger door on the left side and a rear passenger door on the right slightly off centered so that it can be easily accessed from either side... joystick will definately make it a better seller except that it will be more difficult to get past regulators (you know how government's fear change). Interesting concept but speed and "cool factor" will have to be addressed if you want it to really take off. Also price point, if you can get a new one for $5K then people will be more willing to accept certain limitations.

Posted by: Vlad on 3 Feb 05

I would rather walk the straight and narrow course than take a Naro. Its wierd.

Posted by: Neil Farbstein on 5 Feb 05



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