alternative vehicle concepts


I've been drawing cars since I was a little kid. My dad would take me to the New York Auto Show, where I would marvel at the "cars of the future" concept vehicles. Soon I was sketching my own futuristic car designs, and dreamed that someday I'd attend Art Center College of Design in San Francisco. (That didn't happen... too far away from home, and pricey tuition!). I hung around the car scene though, going to custom car shows and drag strips on a regular basis. Especially influencial on my future profession was the custom van craze of the 1970s, and at van shows, I documented these creations with photos for future inspiration. (Decades later these classic photographs would be featured on the popular Jalopnik auto blog online.) I marveled at the intricate airbrushed artwork that adorned these once-ugly utility vans, and I was hooked. I learned how to master the air brush, and decorated a few of my friend's cars and trucks with custom logos (people DID name their cars back in the day!). Later I used these skills to land "real" work as an illustrator of satellites! And it all started with the dreams of a young kid with colored pencils, who loved to draw future car concepts. 

As an adult, I had the opportunity to work with some talented folks from an organization called Lightwheels, who I met at a theTour de Sol solar-powered vehicle race. They had a lot of great engineering concepts for electric, solar, and human-powered vehicles (enclosed trikes essentially), but they didn't have any design expertise. I jumped at the chance to help. 

Ultimately, none of these vehicles got anywhere close to being built, but I was pleased to see that the newly-released Aptera 100-mpg vehicle is very close to my design concepts from 20 years ago! Though expensive to purchase today, I think start-up companies like Aptera (who, unfortunately, did NOT survive) will pave the way for a new generation of less-expensive micro-cars which, like a motorcycle, aren't intended to completely replace a conventional passenger car, but would be bought as an extra vehicle for short trips or daily single-occupant commuting. This new category of vehicles could bridge the gap between a motorcycle (which is limited by weather conditions) and a larger car (which is overkill for short single-person trips). If a major manufacturer tries this, I think it would be a surprising success, especially with the renewed public trend toward "green" tech. GM, Mercedes and BMW have all showed concept vehicles that reveal that they are at least tinkering with the idea, but no automaker has taken the next step. I hope I don't have to wait another 20 years!

I can still dream...

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