eMotive: Vehicles for Emerging Economies
Rapid Fire SymposiumEnergy: Creation, Conservation, Conversion
Thursday, January 31, 2008
For large numbers of people throughout the world personal mobility often looks something like this- an entire family on a small scooter. The motorcycles and scooters may be small and lightweight but many of the power sources are older two-stroke gasoline engines that are not particularly clean running. While they may not take up much room on the road it's really not the best way to move 5 people from place to place.
But this may be changing. With the introduction of the Tata Nano and other very low-cost cars, more people may begin to shift from vehicles like these, as well as from bicycles and walking, to larger and heavier vehicles like the Nano. Certainly the Nano would be more comfortable and able to carry things more easily but at what cost? They will take up more room on the road, use more fuel, and emit more pollution particularly in urban centers where many of these vehicles might be used.
Supporters of the Nano and other similar types of vehicles argue that it's elitist to deny everyday people in countries such as India, that cannot currently afford the luxury of an automobile, access to low-cost cars just because the West has used up so many of the resources and are afraid that more Nanos will affect global warming and pollution levels. Critics correctly point out that more cars, using more hydrocarbons, will inevitably impact the earth's environment negatively along with the lives of many of those who would like to have more mobility.
But there are more than just two choices here. We can have other modes of transportation that offer the opportunity to move goods and people from place to place. Walking, bicycling, mass transit, even motorbikes and cars all have their place as part of a larger transportation system. But when looking at this picture, if a car is not the answer, what might be designed to be better than a motorbike in this situation without the larger physical and environmental footprint of a car.
The eMotive project is a collaboration between Chris Bull at Brown and Khipra Nichols and Michael Lye from RISD to design a sustainable vehicle without the impacts of even a small car like the Nano, while still offering greater capabilities than the motorcycle.
This vehicle is:
- low-cost (much less than a Nano)
- easily fixed and modified for local uses and conditions
- sustainable - environmental, economically and culturally
3G development model based off a 48V electric drivetrain
Also Develping a biofuel powered small diesel prototype
Developed as an "appropriate technology" solution to transportation problems in urban settings.
eMotive can be contacted at: eMotive@risd.edu