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Transportation Earth Technology

Open Source Car — 20 Year Lease, Free Fuel For Life 319

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the A-for-effort dept.
ruphus13 writes "The race for a hyper-fuel-efficient car is on in a big way. Now, Riversimple has tried to leverage the knowledge of the masses to bring its vision to reality soon with a car that gives the equivalent of 300 miles to the gallon. 'The idea to build an open source car isn't a new one, but you've got to give vehicle design company Riversimple credit for originality. The company plans to unveil its first car in London later this month, a small two-seater that weighs roughly 700 pounds. If you agree to lease one for 20 years (yes, 20), Riversimple will throw in the cost of fuel for the lifetime of the lease...The team decided to release the car's designs under an open source license in order to speed up the time it takes to develop the vehicle while also driving down the cost of its components.'"
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Open Source Car — 20 Year Lease, Free Fuel For Life

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  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:30AM (#28319079)

    The company plans to unveil its first car in London later this month, a small two-seater that weighs roughly 700 pounds.

    A car that will never sell anywhere in the US due to total inability to pass crash safety test. I'm actually surprised that it can be sold anywhere in the first world, to be honest.

    • by aichainz (523314) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:35AM (#28319099)
      ./configure --with-death-wish
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      The company plans to unveil its first car in London later this month, a small two-seater that weighs roughly 700 pounds.

      A car that will never sell anywhere in the US due to total inability to pass crash safety test. I'm actually surprised that it can be sold anywhere in the first world, to be honest.

      I don't see the point of very small cars like this. If I don't need to carry anything I will ride my bike. If I do then I use my big, inefficient van. A small car wouldn't be much use to me because it can't carry much.

      Additionally I don't see how people can commit to lease a car like this for 20 years. Surely their lifestyle and requirements will change before then.

      • by selven (1556643) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:39AM (#28319121)
        And what if you need to go a long distance without carrying anything, like the majority of people that have long commutes to work?
      • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:40AM (#28319123) Journal

        I don't see the point of very small cars like this. If I don't need to carry anything I will ride my bike. If I do then I use my big, inefficient van. A small car wouldn't be much use to me because it can't carry much.

        Yes, it certainly is a total piece of crap because it doesn't suit your lifestyle.

        Many countries are full of tiny cars, where they serve as the primary (and inexpensive) vehicle for many people, some of who either can't afford a full-size car or are moving up from scooters and motorcycles. It might sound strange to you, but there are many countries where automobiles are not a religion, and paying a fixed lump sum a month to own a car is an attractive option. Plus, if you've ever seen the tiny winding streets of many European cities, you'll realize that this car isn't all that impractical in the right setting.

        Of course, forget about it in the US, except maybe in Oregon.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "there are many countries where automobiles are not a religion" Sorry, I couldn't hear your reply over your snootyness. Cars are a necessity in the US. We have more room and things are much father spread out. Try getting around a typical western US city without a car.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2009 @09:29AM (#28319363)

            I call shenanigans on this. Australia has a population density of 2.6/sq. km. The USA has a population density of 31/sq. km. That means that the US is nearly 1200% more densely populated than Australia. With the exception of rural folk like farmers and miners (who need them), "Soccer Moms", and other types that have their heads filled with The American Dream, almost no-one drives American-style big cars here. Quite a few of my friends get around without cars at all - bikes, public transport, motorbikes/scooters, etc. Many of them own unnecessarily big houses, just because they're cheap, and yet they're doing fine getting around. I'm sorry that your automotive industry have ignored your needs and pushed a bunch of expensive and unnecessary cars on you, but please don't try and pretend America's natural geography somehow requires a car, much less the SUVs that are dominant. It's everything BUT geography at play here.

            And before you start criticising me for taking your comment out of context, keep in mind that GRANDPARENT was discussing both cars and car sizes.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              It's not so much the geography but the build-up that has been strongly influenced by the availability of the car and cheap fuel. People live in the sprawling suburbs and have to drive dozens of miles to work. The need for huge parking spaces spreads out the cities. It's no surprise that the drive-in is an American invention.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by cayenne8 (626475)
                There is also, the "car culture" that the US has...that car (much like a motorcycle) gives one a feeling of independence, etc. And to many in the US, a car isn't simply a means to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.

                A car can be something fun to 4-wheel/offroad with. With me...I like a car that looks good, has a good exhaust note, and is a performance car.

                I can't imagine getting a keeping a car for 20years?!?! The body style would be way out of style way before the lease was up.

                Hell, a

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by tepples (727027)

              Australia has a population density of 2.6/sq. km. The USA has a population density of 31/sq. km.

              True, the population of the United States is somewhat concentrated near the coasts, but not nearly to the same extent as in Australia (near the coasts) or Canada (near the southern border).

              Quite a few of my friends get around without cars at all - bikes, public transport, motorbikes/scooters, etc.

              How well does a bike work in the rain? And how well does public transport work at night, on Sundays, or on national holidays?

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by robot_love (1089921)
                Or what about Canada? I live in Calgary, and we have sub-zero weather from October to April.

                You ride your bike to work in the rain? You were lucky! I used to dream of riding a bike to work in the rain. It beats the hell out of trying to ride a bike to work in -25 C with driving snow and a wind-chill of -60 and exposed flesh freezes in 30 seconds.

                Why did I move here?
              • How well does a bike work in the rain?

                Bikes work equally well in rain and in dry. What would you expect? They aren't made of rice-paper, you know, or stuck together with gum.

                • My Latin is not too good. Could you help me out with the translation? Something like, I am--or we are?--always in ____ (faecibus == poo?), only the depth varies.
                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  Bikes work equally well in rain and in dry.

                  Wrong. Nor do cars.

                • by tepples (727027)

                  Bikes work equally well in rain and in dry.

                  Like bikes, cars take longer to stop with wet brakes. But unlike bikes, cars have a roof to keep the driver from getting wet.

              • by fantomas (94850) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:27PM (#28321825)

                "How well does a bike work in the rain?"

                I love it, only on slashdot. Mod parent up for being a true geek! Only a true geek who doesn't do daylight or weather query whether bikes work in the rain.

                For your information, pretty well. Stopping distance is slightly longer and like motorbikes and cars, performance is somewhat reduced.

                People who use bicycles in wet weather handle the rain by using "coats". They put their luggage in waterproof containers which keeps the rain (a type of "weather") off the contents.

                I cycle to work and back, 8 miles each way, any weather apart from ice and heavy snow. You put on a coat, and waterproof trousers. Gortex is a wonderful invention. Waterproof panniers keep my laptop nice and dry. No problem.

                Some people wear specialist cycling clothing, I just use my walking gear.

                I'm guessing you're not much of an outdoors kind of person.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Sj0 (472011)

                  You start getting into a new discussion. If you've got to car around all these outfits and do all this changing just so you don't have a big brown stripe up your back (God help you if it's raining but hot -- you're sealing all that perspiration in), is it really worth the effort to save 2 dollars on gasoline?

                • by wirelessbuzzers (552513) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:58PM (#28322781)

                  I hear you, and I bike to work rain or shine (but only 2 miles). Still, there are some serious disadvantages of a bike.

                  In the rain, it's much harder to see anything than in a car (particularly with glasses), and coat or no coat, it is considerably less comfortable than in a car.

                  Splash guards take care of the "brown stripe" problem well enough, but you still have to be careful not to get bike grease on your stuff. I've ruined a few pairs of pants by absentmindedly hopping on the bike without pinning up, or by parking the bike and brushing my leg against the chain. Even my hat has some "character"... got greased up while strapped to the rack or in one of the baskets... dunno how exactly. I would not want to ride with a suit.

                  Carrying capacity is pretty limited, even with rack+baskets+backpack. 30 pounds of groceries for 5 miles, fine, but a CostCo run is out of the question. Furniture, computers etc are also more difficult (I did haul a desk chair once, though). What's more, the lack of suspension makes carrying glass, eggs, etc a risky proposition.

                  And of course, it makes a long, tiring day full of errands even longer and more tiring.

                  On the other hand, biking is the only fast way to get around my campus. Parking is hideously expensive, there are bollards all over, and it's too big to walk everywhere. Plus, it helps keep you in shape.

            • I live in the US and we just went for a little trip from Indianapolis to Madison, Wisconsin. Round trip with side ventures and a little driving around Madison came to over 800 miles.

              That's just a couple of neighboring states. I drive 30 minutes at 60 MPH to get to work and that is all within city limits. The suburbs and exurbs and much further away.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by lupis42 (1048492)

              On another note, I've always felt that SUVs were more or less entirely bad, in the sense that they don't do anything well: they can't carry as much stuff as a van or pickup, they can't carry any more people than a large station wagon (there were seven seat wagons long before there were SUVs), they mostly suck off road, they use more fuel than any two of these other options, they generally drive quite poorly, and because the headlights and bumpers and center of mass are higher off the ground, SUVs do more da

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ShieldW0lf (601553)

              The difference is, you guys have significantly better public transportation infrastructure. I was amazed when I first experienced it, because there is nothing like it on the North American continent.

              What we have is crappy because shoddy designs and materials were used to save money, prohibitively expensive to use because it is privately owned and viewed as nothing more than a vehicle to tax the masses, and the people inside are packed into too little space and bombarded with so much propaganda that it's re

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Eternauta3k (680157)

              Australia has a population density of 2.6/sq. km. The USA has a population density of 31/sq. km. That means that the US is nearly 1200% more densely populated than Australia

              You should probably be looking at the distribution [wikipedia.org] of people rather than bare population density. Good luck finding stats on that, though.

          • by Jurily (900488) <[jurily] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:51AM (#28319825)

            Cars are a necessity in the US. We have more room and things are much father spread out. Try getting around a typical western US city without a car.

            That's not because you have more room. That's because public transportation sucks and has a social stigma.

            You don't need a car in London, for example.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          We usualy call those places third world countries.

          Lets be practical here, when buying this car (leasing it) they are asking a first world country to lower it's standards to the lowest denominator. What next, no plumbing or electricity for a 20 year lease?

          • by rubberchickenboy (1044950) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:06AM (#28319589)
            I live in Japan, one of those countries where small cars are prevalent. Kei cars aren't exactly 700 lbs. but the smallest are close. This country is decidedly not third world, last I checked.
            • by sumdumass (711423)

              I live in Japan, one of those countries where small cars are prevalent. Kei cars aren't exactly 700 lbs. but the smallest are close. This country is decidedly not third world, last I checked.

              Oh god, I want to just say "it's because you people are small" so bad but I guess that isn't a truthful or proper statement. There will be exceptions to about everything, japan is probably one of them. Of course I'm going to use the "usually" to show that I intended not to be all inclusive so please don't take offense

        • Many countries are full of tiny cars

          Are they? Name one.

          And while we're at it, can you clarify what tiny means? Compared to what?

      • If it's open source, why lease? Why not just make one?

        If it requires sophisticated tools to make one, each community should have a set with documentation, and any person should be able to use the community tools to make their personal transportation as needed.

        There is no justification for indenturing yourself for your entire adult life aside from the greed of a few.

    • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @09:02AM (#28319227)

      Introducing bigger cars into the market is a zero sum game for car safety, and a net safety loss for pedestrians.
      This car would be safe enough without all those SUV's.

      Time will tell, but as soon as oil prices are high enough, those kind of car will become a necessity, while SUV's will have to stay parked.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Fuel prices will never get that high. There is ample supplies of oil and just like the so called solutions of cap and trade, the people will just demand more pay to compensate for the extra costs.

    • by mauriceh (3721) <maurice.harddata@com> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @09:43AM (#28319449) Homepage

      The paradox of this simply amazes me.

      If it were a motorcyle there would be no trouble with selling it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        You mean there would be no trouble selling it to people who want to drive motorcycles and didn't care about style or performance.

        Many people don't consider motorcycles safe enough to own one let alone drive it. The difference here is that it is being presented as a car and people are taking the same objections as they would have for motorcycles.

        • by mauriceh (3721)

          I agree,
          however I was commenting on how safety standards prevent the sales of a small car, yet allow the sale of motorcyles and bicycles that use the same roads.

    • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:01AM (#28319551) Homepage

      I guess you'll find it isn't actually a car, but it is registered and taxed as a quad bike. A popular electric vehicle in London, the GWiz, is classed as a quad bike.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sjs132 (631745)

      It builds on the green philosophy...

      If enough people buy them and get squished by the rest of the people who are smart enough to understand density/weight/safty retios, then it will reduce the population by that amount that bought the little "smart" cars... Thus reducing green house gas emissions by reducing the volume of homosapien flatulence.

    • A car that will never sell anywhere in the US due to total inability to pass crash safety test. I'm actually surprised that it can be sold anywhere in the first world, to be honest.

      At first I thought the headline was misleading, as they only pay for fuel during the 20-year lease, but then I remembered this saying:

      Build a man a fire and he's warm for the day;
      Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.

      So maybe you really do get free fuel for the rest of your life when you lease one of these.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Screw the crash-tests, no american would want a car that weighs less than the owner of the car.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gordonjcp (186804)

      A car that will never sell anywhere in the US due to total inability to pass crash safety test.

      This is something that people in the US seem to bring up a lot. You do realise that American cars are incredibly expensive to insure in the UK and EU, because they do so badly in crash tests? A great example is the Hummer H2 - uninsurable in the UK, because if you clip a kerb at anything above parking speeds, you'll die. A friend of mine recently shredded an H2 that had clipped a parked car (Renault Scenic) at

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BikeHelmet (1437881)

      The company plans to unveil its first car in London later this month, a small two-seater that weighs roughly 700 pounds.

      Gee, that's some rounding error right there.

      770 pounds is closer to 800, and that means minimum 900 (perhaps 1000 pounds) with a person in it. Two people and you might have 1200 pounds.

      The small size would worry me in North America, but I can see this being both sellable and safe in parts of Europe. After all, some of those old winding alleys are so small you can hardly fit a truck in them.

    • An "open-source" car opens some interesting legal questions. Hot rodders and customizers can legally build cars that haven't been crash-tested, haven't undergone long-term emissions system durability testing, etc. and register these one-of-a-kind vehicles for highway use (in most US states). Open source designs mean that many people or small companies could be building the same car, no one maker in quantities that exceed the legal threshold for a volume-produced vehicle, but cumulatively in volumes that wo

  • FTFA:

    Riversimple predicts the car will achieve the energy equivelent of more than 300 miles to the gallon.

    "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is."

    I have wished for open standard products for a long time, things like riding mowers where parts could be reasonably modular - like plugging in a video card into a PC, it doesn't care if it's nvidia, ati, or other. If nothing else than to keep the manufacturers honest when it comes time to repair things but also

  • by MultiModeRb87 (804979) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:44AM (#28319139)
    Well I guess that means they aren't planning on marketing this in the Northeast, or anywhere that there's occasionally snow on the ground. I doubt that much of that 700 lbs would *not* be riddled with rust long before that lease would run out. Seriously, why lease a car for 20 years? And what'd the lease payment be? Not to mention the fact that you could probably just buy the damn thing (or maybe even a nicer car) using a 20 year car loan and cover the fuel out of pocket for far less than what you'd pay these jokers. Effectively locking in the cost of fuel for 20 years may sound attractive, but in practice it's more likely a win-win for the company --sure, you don't pay extra when fuel prices go up, but you also miss out on the downward fuel price fluctuations. The company is certain to make more money from you than you'll get out in fuel in any case, since if the prices are such that the deal would seem to work out in your favor, the company will just go bankrupt.
    • by Wheat (20250)

      A 20 year lease sounds like a dumb gimmick.

      But you could drive the car in a climate that gets snow and salted roads - the body is carbon fiber - no rust!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MultiModeRb87 (804979)

        A 20 year lease sounds like a dumb gimmick.

        But you could drive the car in a climate that gets snow and salted roads - the body is carbon fiber - no rust!

        Not everything can be made of carbon fiber. The metal parts (engine, exhaust system, etc) will still rust. Plus, 20 years is a very long time to commit to a car. Lots of expensive components tend to wear out over such a long period. We're supposed to believe that the company (which has zero track record building, selling, and maintaining cars) is even going to be here after that amount of time?

        Of course, based on the fine article, it rapidly becomes clear that this is a vaporware economic model for a

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fast turtle (1118037)

          You can actually build a workable vehicle from carbon fiber and ceramics nowdays without using any metal at all. The biggest problem is how to you repair such a vehicle when it's damaged? Is it even possible? What about recycling the materials? Both steel and aluminum are easily recyclable, thus reducing actual energy costs associated with the manufacturing of the parts but cutting out the mining process.

          What I'd rather see is the push to design a vehicle that's as close to 100 percent recyclable as possibl

    • by miasmic (669645) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @09:06AM (#28319247)

      I doubt that much of that 700 lbs would *not* be riddled with rust long before that lease would run out.

      If you RTA you'll see that the bodywork is made from carbon composite. I don't think it's that unreallistic for a car to still be going after 20 years - how many cars are there around on the roads from 1989/1990? Still quite a few (esp. Japanese made), in some parts of the world the majority of cars are that old or older.

      But this post is a great illustration of how many people view cars as throwaway, disposable products, good for only 10 years. Cars don't just impact the environment with CO2 emissions, the material and energy cost of production, maintenance and disposal have to be taken into account, and it's about time seeing a manufacturer taking responsibility in this regard, rather than cashing in on the easy profits of throwaway consumerism

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by stonewallred (1465497)
        I don't buy into the whole ecology BS. But my 1991 Jetta is a piece of engineering magic. Still runs fine, gets good mileage, and is rust free. Burns a little oil and needs the head gasket replaced, and the body shows the assorted dings and nicks that a 19 year old car will get. I look forward to driving it 15 years from now, as If anything goes out, it is easily and cheaply replaced or repaired.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by HockeyPuck (141947)

        I bought a used car because I can buy twice the car (performance/safety/features) for half the price of the current model. Not because of CO2 emissions or the price of fuel or being "Green". I wanted a BMW M3 and couldn't afford the current model, but could afford one with 45k miles on it.

        You've obviously never tried to convince someone that they should buy a used car. The most common responses I've heard:
        "if the car was still good, the previous owner would still be driving it." or
        "I don't want someone el

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        Those throw away cars don't go to the dump to get buried with all the household waste.

        They get sold to people willing to do some work to them and drive them for a while longer or they go to a salvage yard and get cannibalized for parts until everything of value if picked from them, then they get recycled. All the throw away mentality does is present poorer people with an opportunity to own a car or repair their cars at a decent rate.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dun Malg (230075)

        If you RTA you'll see that the bodywork is made from carbon composite

        I guarantee that the vast majority of that 700 pound weight is made up of steel and copper. The body is the least of your worries in a salt environment.

        But this post is a great illustration of how many people view cars as throwaway, disposable products, good for only 10 years.

        That's because in a salt environment they are. The measures needed to preserve a car in those areas generally involve keeping it in a garage for the winter.

  • Finally! Parity between vehicles and pedestrians.
  • The eco-friendly vehicle will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells and made from carbon composites.

    Hydrogen fuel cells are extremely far from production. Carbon fiber modeling software is some of the most closely-guarded stuff around, and without some good stuff this thing is a very small rolling coffin. I don't know whether to decry it for being a deathtrap, or to be relieved that it will NEVER, EVER actually happen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blind biker (1066130)

      Last year I gave my students as an assignment to compare various fuel cell technologies, and also to compare various hydrogen storage technologies. There are many viable alternatives for hydrogen storage, you would be surprised. Even the good-old (but with a modern twist) pressure tanks are now viable.

      There are also reformation technologies that create hydrogen on the go, from (for instance) methanol. So you can look at methanol as a hydrogen storage of sorts.

      Hydrogen fuel cells is the main topic of my PHD

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        There are many viable alternatives for hydrogen storage, you would be surprised.

        I would be really surprised if any of them were actually implemented alongside an entire fueling infrastructure. And please, please, don't bring up that old "reformation of methanol" bit. There's not enough methanol, and we can't make enough.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by blind biker (1066130)

          Sure we can make enough methanol. My colleagues in this superproject are working on that part of the equation as we speak - there are many approaches to producing cheap methanol. Most of them require expensive catalysts, sure, but that's a one-time cost. Unless we are talking about biocatalysts, but those, on the other hand, are (or an be) extremely cheap.

          Methanol may very well be the fuel of the future.

  • Eh, maybe. (Score:3, Informative)

    by mikesd81 (518581) <.ten.nozirev. .ta. .1dsekim.> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:50AM (#28319167) Homepage
    From this article [scientificamerican.com]:

    The Urban Car weighs just 772 pounds (350 kilograms), can reach speeds of 50 miles (81 kilometers) per hour, and has a range of more than 200 miles (322 kilometers).

    While my Jeep may be heavier, it too on a full tank of gas has a range of 200 miles, and can reach speeds of 50 MPH. And it won't struggle on a hill and I can take my groceries home. I'll be more interested in a car like this that would more practical for the family life. But it is interesting that the engineers will soon post the entire design on the wiki, and anyone can lease the it for free, modify it, and manufacture their own vehicle. 40 Fires Foundation [40fires.org] is a forum to develop energy-efficient cars using an open source approach.

    • by Wheat (20250)

      Yeah, but the point is this car doesn't have a "full tank of gas". At that level of fuel efficiency, it's like driving your Jeep 200 miles at 50 mph on nothing but fumes - about the last 1/2 gallon of gas in a 10 gallon tank.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by selven (1556643)
      There are lots of "family" cars. This is a single-person oriented car.
  • by name_already_taken (540581) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:58AM (#28319213)

    It looks similar in size to the G-Wiz [google.com], an all-electric car which can only be legally driven in the UK because it's not classed as a "car", it's a "quadricycle". Quadricycles are basically thought of as a four-wheel motorcycle, so there are almost no safety requirements.

    There is little to no chance of these being legal to drive in an US state, other than those that allow "neighborhood vehicles", like golf carts and Japanese Kei-class cars - here in Ilinois you can drive those on streets that have a maximum speed limit of 35 MPH, but no faster.

    I especially recommend Clarkson's G-Wiz review [google.com]. The G-Wiz is beaten by a table in the drag race test. Golf carts move faster and are roomier.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      Taking the mass of the car as a measurement as how safe the car is not that dissimilar from thinking that a cpu's clock speed is an adequate measure of how fast that cpu can do things. In both cases, the measurement is only part of a much larger and more complex picture. In the case of automobiles, while there are factors that improve a car's safety that do end up contributing to its mass, there is no theoretical reason that a lighter car would be any unsafer for its occupants than a heavier one unless
      • There are, however, hard limits once you get physics involved. Crumple zones, for instance. There is a minimum time you can slow the human body from 40mph to zero, without incurring injury. This is what a crumple zone does. The car sacrifices its structure, to slow the passenger cabin down to zero at an acceptable rate.
        Sure, you could build a very small, very rigid car that would see minimal damage in a crash. But you, the squishy thing inside, would incur significant injury to your brain, lower limbs, and
  • Considering my local sports centre decided it's "life membership" meant 5 years[1], I'm rather skeptical if this company is willing or even able to enter into a deal that lasts 20 years. What happens if they get taken over - or goes bust (more than likely). Who owns the car and / or the commitment then. maybe when they've been in business a century or two, I'll be convinced by their stability and be willing to risk my money

    [1] and had this upheld in court when some, rather miffed, lifetime members challen

    • "...a century or two..." so, Mercedes, Oldsmobile if they still made cars, Ford... kinda slim pickins... nevermind the ones you lump into the second century, most of those would be far worse than whatever came of this.

    • "life membership" meant 5 years and had this upheld in court when some, rather miffed, lifetime members challenged it.

      Did any of the plaintiffs have mysterious accidents?

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @09:05AM (#28319241)
    700lbs? 1/2 the weight of a SmartCar? An enclosed go-kart.
    20 year lease? You mean I'm still going to be making payments on this thing in 2029? Gimme a break.
    Hydrogen fuel cell? And we refuel it where?

    I don't care how green it might be (if it ever comes to pass), but locked into payments and a design for 20 years is just silly.
  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @09:24AM (#28319335)
    The link in the Slashdot abstract, to http://ostatic.com/ [ostatic.com] causes Norton Security to throw a fit about no fewer than _164_ drive-by downloads on that site. What an unfriendly link to provide. Serves me right for attempting to actually read the article.
  • by harry666t (1062422) <harry666t&gmail,com> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @09:37AM (#28319419)
    Car analogy please.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @09:51AM (#28319497)

    This generally doesn't equate to "as much fuel as you can use." If you read the fine print on these type of statements they often mean "1 per ." When I was a kid I won a "years supply of mac n cheese." This turned out to be a coupon book with 12 coupons in it which could be used one per month. I believe Chik-fil-a did the same thing with their 'years supply' of sandwiches. They just provided 52 coupons for one sandwich per week.

    So maybe you'll be allowed one fill-up per month.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      A friend of mine won a year's supply of a chocolate drink... In July he got 365 bottles, so enough for one a day... However, the expiry date on them was September, so had he actually tried to just drink one a day they would have been rather rancid by the time next June rolled around.

  • That's 127.543112 kilometers per liter (or roughly 8 times as fuel-efficient as a Joe Average car).
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:02AM (#28319559) Journal

    The business model of making carts that can be rented for 20 years is the exact opposite of the current car industry's business model: the car industry of today makes cars that are not exactly reliable and long lasting. They don't have any interest to, because they want you to buy a new car every 5 to 10 years. They also want to make a ton of money from spare part sales.
    But if you design a car to be reliable and with cheap spare-parts, that is also fuel-efficient, why that's the best thing one can do for the Earth, car-wise.

    I wish these dudes good luck.

  • I read through the article and a lot of blogs covering Riversimple [riversimple.com]. Here's what it looks like under the hood [riversimple.com]. It seems too early and preliminary for adoption. "Open Source" seems to have been employed purely as a buzzword to generate interest. Most of the detail is actually at the 40 Fires foundation website which will probably release design schematics. Their FAQ [40fires.org] answers questions I had in mind and is a good place for a starting read. The codename for this car is Hybran [40fires.org]. The EU welcomes Hydrogen cars [europa.eu] as a strong "Green" alternative.

    If you do compare it to other initiatives like OSCar [theoscarproject.org], you would find this option from Riversimple probably at a better stage of adoption. But until they unveil their prototypes (16-Jun-2009 is not far) and manufacturing goals (however they intend to go about it,) consumers will be skeptical about adoption. They first have to hit a note on consumers _wanting_ it or _needing_ it before proposing an attractive business model. Most of the prior comments reflect that we are not yet ready. Design momentum on OSCar seems to have stalled in the year 2006.

    In contrast another vehicle release earlier this year happened in India with a lot of buzz about a $2,500 car, the Nano [tatamotors.com] from India. This car _can_ do more than 56 mpg on Gasoline. It isn't green, but you can grab one, drive one and feel much safer than the electric counterparts that roam about the cities. This car went through at least 2 yrs of testing because the average consumer was scared about safety. The adoption was further slowed down by slow manufacturing response from Tata Motors.

    India has allowed an Electric car (REVA) to be used within City limits (for road safety and range concerns) manufactured by Reva [revaindia.com]. The vehicle (a modest 4 wheeler) which comes in multiple flavors has low adoption rates in cities which allow it. This car through evolution has been heavier than India's top selling gasoline small-car the Maruti Suzuki 800cc 4 seater, and offers lesser range within a city. It has a very short range of 80-100km and requires battery packs to be replaced every two years (or depending on usage.) From June, 2001 the adoption has been very slow. During July, 2008 at least 260 Reva's (multiple models) were sold which is a record high. The Reva is priced at a one time price tag of close to $6,500 with an installed set of batteries. These have to be replaced at about $1000 every year. There's some comprehensive information and links on the Wikipedia Article (Reva) [wikipedia.org]. The cost has been a factor in slowing down adoption added to the fact that electric charges are required almost on a nightly basis. India has welcomed the car with reduced parking charges and several cuts. The G-Whiz model sold outside India is far too pricey ($12000 in Chile) and does not enjoy these environment friendly regulatory benefits.

    For crowded cities in India where pollution is a heavy problem, Electrical cars with limited range for office commuters who'd prefer some shade (where public transport is a little inconvenient with timings) has received early adoption. i would presume that countries facing rapid development and growth rates will have to take this more seriously. Scaling public transport infrastructure has always been a challenge in many developing countries owing to a myriad of reasons. The basis for creating indices to track air pollution is outlined quite well in this paper (PDF) from
  • Leasing the most solid, well-engineered, reliable car in the world for 20 years would be a horrible idea. Cars are rarely reliable past 5 years lately, and a 20 year old car is very likely to be off the road. This is a 1.0 product at best, from an unknown company-- who really thinks their car will still be on the road after 20 years?
  • Welcome back to Sir Clive Sinclair's infamous three wheeled washing machine that British people know and love - as long as we don't have to use them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_C5 [wikipedia.org]
  • There's a thought (Score:2, Interesting)

    by realnrh (1298639)
    Back in the day, cars needed periodic tune-ups to keep going properly. Regulation was passed mandating that cars had to be designed so that they would not need tune-ups like that anymore. Automotive manufacturers screamed that it was impossible, and that it would put garages out of business, then buckled down and did it when the regulators didn't bend.

    Similar laws could be made today demanding a twenty-year expected lifespan for regular cars, excluding accidents. Since much of the environmental cost asso
  • Yes... (Score:3, Funny)

    by samcan (1349105) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:48PM (#28322303)

    But does it run Linux?

    What license would this be released under? Will there be a fork project?

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