While the metal bodywork of cars certainly can be melted down and recycled, the process requires a lot of energy, and therefore isn't entirely eco-friendly. Making cars out of easier-to-recycle materials is certainly one approach to the problem, but designers Kenneth Cobonpue and Albrecht Birkner have another idea – cars with sustainably-sourced, biodegradable bodies. To that end, they have created the Phoenix, a full-sized rolling chassis made from rattan and bamboo.
Cobonpue and Birkner built the 12.75-foot (3.89-meter) two-seater Phoenix in just ten days. Besides the bamboo and rattan, some steel and carbon fiber were also used in its construction. Although it has no motor, Birkner told us that they plan to add one, and are currently collaborating with engineers on the details.
Its skin is intended to last several years, or about the length of time that most people in industrialized nations typically keep a new car. If owners found themselves wishing to keep it longer, they could simply get a new body installed on the existing frame.
Needless to say, the Phoenix is just a concept, and would no doubt require numerous refinements before it could be considered roadworthy. Cobonpue, however, believes that it represents a future in which vehicles could incorporate skins made from woven organic fibers combined with composite materials.
People from the automobile industry also seem to like it.
"We recently had the great chance to exhibit the Phoenix concept car at the Milan Design Week 2011," said Birkner. "The overall reaction was surprisingly good and people really liked the concept and design of the car. Especially people from the car industry like Audi, Lamborghini, Citreon and Renault loved the refreshing design and realization of the idea."