Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Boy! Have I Got a Car For You!

ALL photos courtesy: Kenneth Cobonpue

I can see me now...cruising the highway, hair blowing, oldies blasting on the radio...aaahh, I can feel the warm breeze already.

With bamboo popping up everywhere in product design, and even in vehicles like bicycles and electric scooters, it was only a matter of time before cars got the same treatment. We've seen some not-so-successful bamboo car designs, but this streamlined bamboo-made concept car by Filipino designer Kenneth Cobonpue and German product designer Albercht Birkner is one that actually looks pretty convincing, even if there are still some kinks to work out.

Made with bamboo, rattan, steel and nylon by craftsmen over a period of ten days, the Phoenix Bamboo Car is designed to be primarily biodegradable, and cheaper to produce and refurbish than conventional cars. Says Cobonpue:
This project attempts to unveil the future of green vehicles using woven skins from organic fibers mated to composite materials and powered by green technology.

Not only that, the prototype strikes at the heart of the idea that modern automotive design has to be based on an industrial means of production. Like the concept "Ajiro" bamboo bike that's farmed, not factory-made, one can imagine that the bamboo material for the Phoenix could be likewise grown and harvested locally.

In the aesthetics department, the car biomimics the fluid shape of a leaf. Measuring 153 inches long, the sides of the shell are woven to meet at the tail-end of the leaf's 'stem.' The lifespan of the shell is designed for at least a five-year cycle -- the average time that a person keeps a car before replacing it.

It's a beautiful concept, but practical issues like road safety, how it's going to be powered (electric?), how much of the car will actually biodegrade, and how it's going to be distributed and recycled on a larger scale, would ultimately need to be addressed in the event that the idea does takes off.

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