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I-Unit in NYC
Jamais Cascio, 23 Mar 05

iunit.jpgAlmost a year ago, we wrote a bit about Toyota's "Personal Mobility" concept vehicle, which combined a radical body design, battery power, and distributed computing to create a new model for individual car transportation. Typically, concept cars show up on computer screens or at trade shows, and disappear as the designers move on or shiny new technologies attract their attention. Imagine the surprise, then to see Green Car Congress note that Toyota will be bringing the "I-Unit" concept vehicle to the upcoming New York International Auto Show.

The I-Unit is clearly evolved from the PM concept. Few details are currently available, but both GCC and WC will keep a watch for them to emerge. It will be interesting to compare the 2005 specs with the previous incarnation of the design; what Toyota keeps and what it drops could be a larger indicator of where the automaker is headed. Toyota is aggressively promoting itself as being the most forward-looking carmaker around; the current issue of Wired has an extended article about Toyota, going into some detail about the company's plans for broader use of hybrid technologies.

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That is quite possibly the stupidest looking vehicle I've ever seen. I'd never, ever buy that. Ever. I can't imagine many other people would either.

Can you imagine getting hits with even a Pinto in that thing? Christ, you'd be dead in anything over 15 mph!


Posted by: Jesse Hill on 24 Mar 05

Can you imagine getting hits with even a Pinto in that thing? Christ, you'd be dead in anything over 15 mph! BAD IDEA.

Well, it's a concept vehicle, meaning they're not actually going to sell it anytime soon. The whole point of a concept vehicle is to explore design ideas.

From the Toyota website, it seems this is their answer to an entirely different transportation system, one in which this is the only class of automobile in a given space, such that all the vehicles would be on par with one another. One doesn't measure a golf cart with a pickup truck because they don't drive in the same space. One could also make that comparison with trains and automobiles.

I'm sure you can find more about new concepts in transportation systems, if you're interested. It's understandable that someone could jump to wrong conclusions without knowing the context of the idea being discussed.

Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 24 Mar 05

It reminds me of those electric wheelchairs they sell on late-night TV. I might need one someday, but in the meanime, my personal mobility unit:

It gets over ten miles per bagel!

(actually, I've got a 2003)

Posted by: odograph on 24 Mar 05

Perhaps it's time to start siccing designers on hybrids so they look mean. You know: Chrome grills that look like a rack of fangs, headlights arranged to look like demonic eyes, oversized front wheels and fenders shaped to resemble the muscular shoulders of a hell-hound.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 24 Mar 05

Maybe you were kidding, but that would really encourage me to buy one.

Mostly, I don't have a hybrid becuse I can't afford one, and the technology is still new, but they also all look like bigger versions of those cars that I had as a kid, where you pull it back and let go and it drives a few feet.

Cars will always be a little (or a lot) about status - may as well start designing with human nature in mind.

Posted by: Justus on 24 Mar 05

I'm not kidding. Designers have been creating cars that appeal to the reptile mind for several years now. Take a loot at the PT Cruiser and the Dodge Ram pickup. They look mean. That's part of why they sell to um, a certain market segment. (You know, the people who bolt rubber scrotums under the rear bumper. No, I'm not kidding.)

Hybrids should have, I dunno, electroluminescent panels and neon and gleaming metallic carapaces that make them look like cyborganic insects. What a Pokemon gives birth too after being raped by a Dalek.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 24 Mar 05

I'm just waiting for Honda to do a retro Civic wagon with the same engine as the Accord Hybrid or a hybrid version of the S2000 engine.

Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 25 Mar 05



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