The First Bamboo Electric Cars

The name Bamboo Electric Car conjures up images of hollow bamboo poles surrounding solar-powered batteries, and holes in the floor for Flintstone-esque efforts if the battery gets low. Thanks to several innovative designers, bamboo may just be the next big thing for car manufacturers. From technologically fancy BamBoo-named cars, to vehicles made almost exclusively of the strong and versatile material, there’s something to say about a vehicle manufacturer’s association with bamboo, and it’s a market that will inevitably be watched with awe.

The BamBoo Electric Car

Rinspeed’s BamBoo electric car isn’t quite that bohemian, but its innovative design is turning heads in both the design industry and the environmental awareness niche. This 105 km speed car, complete with an eco-friendly bamboo interior, pulls 120 km before needing a charge, and is turning heads at the latest car shows.

In a tech-powered world, what better way to draw the attention of the up and coming generations than with a radiator grill that shows your status update, or a docking station for your tablet.

Frank Rinderknecht and the company of five employees, Rinspeed, is known for an extensive design portfolio, including a submarine car, a specially designed retro throwback for Elton John, and numerous other aesthetically advanced show cars. In recent years, Rinderknecht has moved into sophisticated concept car design, with a little help from the most advanced technologies.

Every year, Rinspeed designs a concept car, and this year’s BamBoo car is no different. The concept fills a niche market, and environmentalists everywhere rejoice when designers turn to eco-friendly alternatives from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, few people can get over the feel of constant corporate sponsorship. If you can get past the Siemens VDO display, and the obvious plug in the form of a docking station for the HTC Flyer Tablet in the glove box, as well as numerous other brand-specific highlights, you can probably enjoy this highly designed vehicle. The “largest HTC Flyer dock,” as some called the car, may not be for everyone, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Japan’s Bamboo Car – Japanese Meguru

Skipping the fancy aesthetic additions altogether, Japanese companies Yodogawa Group and Kinki Knives Industries Corporation are in the process of creating an affordable $10,000 bamboo car for the tight streets of traditional Japanese towns. This electric car consists of an iron body, lightweight bamboo floors, and fan-shaped washi paper doors.

The Meguru can travel up to 40 km/h (25mi) and you can expect to go about 40 kilometers for every 2-hour charge. The design shape and style isn’t built for road trips or high speeds, but this small, rickshaw-looking vehicle is perfect for city driving, and especially city parking.

Phoenix Bamboo Car

Combining a little more bamboo than the BamBoo by Rinspeed, and a little more design than the Meguru, the Phoenix Bamboo Car is designed by famed natural fiber furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, and is the world’s first eco-friendly bamboo and rattan car. Made from sustainably sourced materials, the entire body of the Phoenix car is biodegradable, which is certainly a first in the auto industry.

While the metal bodywork of cars can theoretically be melted down and recycled, the energy required offsets the eco-friendliness of it. This “rolling chassis” is a mere 12.75 feet long, made of mostly bamboo, but a bit of steel and carbon fiber as well. It was created in just 10 days, and is made to last about as long as “most people in industrialized nations typically keep a new car.” If you decide to keep yours a little longer, than can easily replace your external body on the same frame.

The frame is complete, but we won’t know how eco-friendly it really is until it finally gets an engine. The team is working with engineers to establish the best way to power this sleek vehicle, all while bearing in mind the recyclability and safety of the final product. Keep an eye on the progress of this innovative bamboo car design over the next several months to see how viable a bamboo car actually is.


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