By Barett Poley
Toronto, Canada — February 23, 2017 — Rinspeed, a Swiss vehicle modification company and “think tank” for the automotive industry, has focused on green vehicles since its founding in 1977.
Rinspeed was the first company to create integrated controls on steering wheels, and the company says that it’s responsible for the popularization of both sunroofs and turbochargers. Rinspeed also made waves in 2008 when they introduced the Squba, a Lotus-based submersible vehicle that boasted zero emissions and the ability to drive around underwater like a submarine. Now the company has turned its gaze back to terra firma with the reveal of the Rinspeed Oasis–an all-electric, self-driving entertainment-filled car for the urban landscape.
Based on a completely in-house designed and produced platform, the rolling chassis revealed at the Canadian International AutoShow turned heads, if not yet wheels. Though the engine that will go inside the vehicle has not been announced, Rinspeed states that it will be fully electric.
The traditional specs of the vehicle aren’t nearly as interesting as the interior specifications and technology crammed into the car. Rinspeed clearly isn’t going after the performance market with this vehicle. While the standard automotive enthusiast might look to horsepower, power-to-weight-ratios, or pound-feet of torque, Rinspeed is putting the emphasis on the other functions a car can serve. Given its theoretically autonomous capabilities, the interior of the Oasis is more like a mobile office-space than anything currently on the road.
The rolling chassis displayed at the AutoShow had an integrated entertainment platform and comfortable seating. Overall it felt more like sitting in a portable living room than sitting in a car. For many people suffering the daily grind of commuting, this would likely be a welcome improvement.
The Oasis even features a small garden behind the windshield, for growing small vegetables or plants, making the car “green” in more ways than one.
Its autonomous design does bring up some questions, just as other autonomous vehicles do. For example – how will one be able to tell who is at fault in an accident involving autonomous vehicles? Or what happens if an autonomous vehicle collides with a traditional car? Will the human behind the wheel or the computer be blamed? Whose voice will be seen as more important for insurance purposes?
The car, while encased mostly in glass, does have quite a few traditional body panels, but the integrated collision avoidance system in the Oasis may mean we’ll be waiting a while to see one in the bodyshop.