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Monday, June 2, 2008

Inflatable Electric Cars: Surround Your Body in Bliss


Here’s an interesting idea: instead of putting the airbag in the car, put the car in the airbag.

Sure it sounds silly, but XP vehicles, a start-up in California, is doing just that with their upcoming electric car, the Whisper™. Apparently, XP has taken the same sort of airbag technology developed to safely land recent NASA missions on Mars and used it to create an inflatable polymer car frame in which they pack all the essentials for it to actually be considered an automobile.

Not only does XP vehicles state that the Whisper™ will have a range of 2,500 miles using their “hot-swap XPack Multi-Core™ battery/fuel cell powerplant,” they are aiming for a price point of under $5,000. The cars will be sold direct online, initially only offered in Asian markets, and you will be able to configure them with a variety of different colors, decals, stereo systems, iPod mounts, and alarms - none of which will cover up for the fact that you’re driving a balloon.

The car can be shipped to customers in two cardboard boxes and “can be assembled by two people of average education level” in “less than two hours.” What they don’t tell you is that people with Ph.D.’s will be completely unable to figure the damn things out.

As far as safety goes, without an actual product it will be hard to verify the claims, but XP states that the car “will float in an emergency such as a flood or tsunami” and that you could “drive it off a cliff without serious injury.”

Imagine the possibilities for all sorts of discerning demographic groups:

  • Enterprising young bank robbers: Rob the bank, drive away in a Whisper™, then deflate it and pack it up before the authorities can stop laughing.
  • Tire slashing hoodlums: Now you’re not restricted to only slashing tires.
  • Clowns for hire: Drive to your gig in a Whisper™ and turn it into a balloon animal in front of a crowd of adoring 4 year olds.

But really, if the car can go 2,500 miles without having to charge it up and it costs less than $5,000, who cares what it looks like or what havoc it might wreak on your social life? It gets you from point A to point B on one charge, even if those points are Portland, OR, and Mackinac Island. We’ll see if the Whisper™ ever makes it to reality, but if it does I might actually consider buying one.

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Image credits: XP Vehicles

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