Wow! This is a little story which is hard to pass! Maybe you know that in Switzerland all forms of motor racing are actually outlawed and so, instead of guys retiring to the garage/potting shed at night to put another five hours into the 'project' muscle car, rally car or whatever, their Swiss counterpart retires to his shed and some time later emerges with something completely bonkers. One of these Swiss garagistes is a chap named Frank M. Rinderknecht, and he is the owner and automotive visionary behind Rinspeed, maker of actual working concept cars which are unconventional to say the very least!
In his latest creation, he has worked with longtime friends at the watchmaker Carl F Bucherer to integrate a stripped-back skeletonized dashboard clock in the instrument cluster.
However, it would probably be best to become a little more familiar with Mr Rinderknecht's company at this point, so please forgive my indulgence as I show you some of his previous creations before getting to the kernel of this article.
This first little number is called the Rinspeed Splash
Then there was the Rinspeed sQuba....
So now we know a little about the mindset of Mr Frank M. Rinderknecht, you won't be overly surprised to learn that his latest creation can travel through time!!! Well ok, perhaps that's still a little ambitious, even for this guy, although with the brain reservoir behind the Large Hadron Collider based nearby at the CERN facility it would have to be a possibility sometime in the future!!
Well in fact on this occasion Rinspeed have produced a vehicle which looks like a small version of the Smart car - which isn't exactly big to start with... The new Rinspeed UC? (yes, that's it folks - including the '?') is the ultimate city bee. And perhaps it's not as wacky as one would have come to expect from the company's past travails.
The UC? you see (sorry) has been designed today but with designs on it's integration into urban infrastructures of the future - although some aspects might not need to be so far away.
The little joystick-operated 2.6m electric UC? is designed to be self-loaded by the driver quickly and easily onto specially designed railway wagons so the cars can park side by side, their batteries hooked up to onboard charging stations so as to arrive at their destination fully charged, while the driver relaxing in their seat or visiting the restaurant car as the train takes them into the city where disembarkation is as simple as loading and the little car can slip into the centre traffic. There's some forward thinking there you'd have to say!
What else? Well, it's fully web-enabled so booking that train space can be done en-route using VoIP online communications sytems.
Here's a little of what Rinspeed themselves have to say....
"The goal is to create a new mobility concept that integrates individual car ownership and public transportation. A transverse loading system using custom railcars allows loading and unloading of numerous “UC?” vehicles simultaneously and in a very short time. Train passages are booked and reserved online directly from the vehicle. Harman International provides the permanent 3G internet connection as well as marvelous sound on wheels. VoIP2Car technology provides IP telephone service, video chat, video conferences, e-mail and many more features in the “UC?”.
I know that the Bucherer dashboard clock link is relevant to our horologic theme, but perhaps it's a wee bit tenuous in this case as all you've seen here today are silly cars, but I've always thought that Rinspeed were wonderfully 'out there' since first seeing their cars and any excuse to write about them is one I'll jump at.
And maybe you think it all looks a bit mad, but if the future's going to be about new energy solutions, it wouldn't be a bad old world if the eccentric and self-influenced creations of Frank M. Rinderknecht found their way onto the streets of Europe's city centres.
You should really pop over to the Rinspeed website for many more amazing cars.