We saw some cool automotive innovations at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2017, but sometimes one particular idea stands out. Will foldable cars be the future of saving space? Kunio Okawara (大河原 邦男), one of the driving forces behind the popular Gundam mecha franchise, got an exciting idea for vehicles of the future and how to make better use of the limited space of the world’s metropolitan areas.
Okawara was inspired by Transformers for this automotive concept that folds to save space. On the other hand, the shape just changes and merely the dimensions of space required change, the folded car does not actually need less space. However, this might make sense when using open space parking lots and not multi-level park house installations that “store” your car inside. The concept is called “EARTH-I.” A convertible of the future kind.
Big plans for 2018
Whether you like the idea or not, it has already been sold and more than 30 orders for about $70,000 each, have been made. The manufacturers Four Link Systems (Japanese website) hope that they will receive the permit to hit the road with EARTH-I in March this year.
The EARTH-I car is currently planned to be utilized near airports and other tourist hotspots. The vehicle, however, has only two seats and very limited space to store luggage, which might make it a curious pick for Airports, as travelers almost always come with a couple of bags and some bulky luggage.
From anime to reality
On Business Insider, Leon Siciliano quotes Four Link Systems President and CEO, Hiroomi Kinoshita, with his thoughts on the idea. Kinoshita says, “We developed a vehicle which make[s] drivers feel as if they’re steering something that’s not a car,”…”So we offered a robot-inspired shape and made people feel like they are operating a robot while driving. This what makes our car unique and enhances a sense of immersion with the vehicle…”
Kunio Okawara (entry on Wikipedia), mechanical designer who is well known for his concepts in science-fiction animations, has introduced earlier versions of this concept before in 2013 and again in 2015. It seems like this was planned for a very long time already and that the idea has finally found its way into a possible realization. On the other hand, it’s unclear why the vehicle has a “Stark Industries” decal on the side. Perhaps just an homage to Iron Man?
If he is successful, perhaps we will live to see mechas walking around in the near future or other futuristic means of getting around. Wouldn’t you buy that? I wish them all the best for their endeavors.
YouTube: This ‘Transformer’ car folds so you can park in tight spaces (Business Insider)
Story pitched by news scout Pupu Liang.
Thanks for that!
Photo credit: Kunio Okawara / Four Link Systems
Source: Leon Siciliano (Business Insider) / Eric Stimson (Anime News Network) / Brian Ashcraft (Kotaku)