Back to basics: Ford patented a shrinking car with inspiration from Model A
By Claire Pu
In our postmodern era in which the automotive industry is trying hard to make cars more complicated and advanced, Ford wants to go back to the basics -- designing a minimalist car that looks simple yet functional.
Drawing inspiration from its 1903 Model A, a two-cylinder, eight-horsepower engine vehicle, which could seat two persons and now considered very primitive, Ford engineers are trying to make a car that can "fold and extend itself" to fit in different number of people and park in either wide or narrow spaces.
Ford has recently filed a patent for the shrinking car, with design very similar to the Model A.The lightweight vehicle uses the fewest parts possible required to be classified as a zero-emissions electric vehicle. The patent indicates that the frame could carry an internal combustion engine or an electric powertrain that could send power to one or both axles. The modular vehicle, which features X-shaped frame parts that can pivot at a cen-tral point, can be folded to decrease its size when parked. The "transformer" feature would be a great advantage when searching for parking spot at crowded metropolitan cities.
The vehicle is designed to fit in up to six passengers. Depending on the driver's needs, the vehicle can be trans-formed for one passenger, two passengers in tandem, two passengers side by side, four passengers (like a tra-ditional vehicle), and six passengers in three rows of twos. Various components can also be added to the vehi-cle, which include a pickup bed, floors, and roof frames, making the car multifunctional.
Moreover, low manufacturing cost and energy-saving are what the minimalist construction looks for. Ford wants to make the car affordable to the general public, especially in super populated countries like India or China. However, safety installations such as windshield should be added to meet different regulations and customer needs, making the compact car equipped with all required functions.
While looking too good to be true, and sparkling with the genius of combining the old concept with the new technology, this isn't the first time an automaker has patented a folding car, as Hyundai came out with a similar concept in earlier this year.
And there's a chance the vehicle will never hit the market, yet Ford believes it could bridge the gap between bicycles and automobiles and offer practical, private transportation on a budget. Automakers are curious to see its final look, they might still need to wait a bit time for that.
Ford has increased filings for electrification patents by nearly 200 percent in the last five years. More than 6000 inventions for patent consideration were submitted by Ford engineers in 2015, a 36% increase than in 2014.Many inventions were related to autonomous and connected vehicles, wearable devices, eBikes, navigation and ride-sharing platforms, according to Ford Media Center.
Resources from: Autoblog, Fox News
Lydia is the project manager of audience development and social media at Futurecar. Lydia started her career in Tokyo at a Fortune Global 500 company before moving to Silicon Valley. Lydia put her bilingual skills to the test by covering the automobile industry and entrepreneurship. Her other journalism experience includes a sports reporting internship at Titan Media and numerous freelance writing gigs. Her professional skills include content optimization, business innovation, and working with industry trends in technology sectors. Lydia holds an M.A in Public Policy from Hitotsubashi University and B.A. in Arts Journalism from Fudan University.
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