By Marc Lachapelle
The Geneva show would not be complete without the latest creation from Swiss tuner, inventor and dreamer Frank Rinderknecht, the mind behind Rinspeed. This year, as a following act to the sQuba submersible car, he brought out the iChange, a low-riding, electric-powered, streamlined sports car that can be transformed from a one-seater to a three-passenger flyer at the touch of a button. The idea being that transportation needs vary greatly and that the ideal vehicle is one that can be quickly adapted.
The trick lies in a huge one-piece transparent bubble that is at once the low-slung iChange’s top, windshield, rear window and… doors. The bubble opens by tilting forward to let the driver slide into the thin, sculpted centre-mounted seat. Two more seats are laid out rearward, on either side. When the driver has company, the smooth-contoured bubble top is raised electrically by about 20 centimetres at the rear, creating enough headroom for next guests.
A racing-style safety hoop installed just behind the rear head restraints would provide protection in a rollover incident. Mr. Rinderknecht is a thorough engineer, not only a dreamer. The iChange also dispenses with a key. Instead, all major functions are set and controlled by iPhone – quite fittingly – including the environmentally-friendly climate and heating systems: one electric and one that consumes ethanol 85. Solar panels on the top and sides of the roof power the fan to keep the interior reasonably cool in the summer and also help keep charge the batteries.
Mostly made of composite materials, the iChange is very light at 1,050 kilograms which helps the 204-horsepower electric motor propel form rest to 100 km/h in just over 4 seconds, coupled to a six-speed gearbox from a Subaru WRX. The slippery shape helps it reach a top speed of 220 km/h. Swift current indeed.