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Citroen E-3POD Antistatic Concept: ultralight, micro segment electric three-wheeler

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February 8, 2011

Citroen E-3POD Antistatic Concept: ultralight, micro segment electric three-wheeler

Citroen E-3POD Antistatic Concept: ultralight, micro segment electric three-wheeler

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The recently finalized Double Challenge project required MA students at London’s Royal College of Art to design an ultra-compact electric vehicle for event sponsor Citroën. Not surprisingly from such distilled intelligence, the winning entry is a new type of personal urban commuter positioned between bicycles and cars – light, aerodynamically efficient, cheap to build and economical in its use of energy and hence run. Heikki Juvonen’s “E-3POD Antistatic” is an ultralight, micro segment electric three-wheeler with the driver sitting inside a large hub-less third wheel.

Juvonen’s E-3POD was conceived as an entry-level electric commuter for young people and students and so that owners of conventional automobiles could have a second low-cost vehicle which fits below the petrol-engined machinery expected to remain the primary means of long distance travel for some time yet. The E-3POD is of simple construction with a low frontal area, excellent aerodynamics and minimal weight in order to minimize the energy requirements of the vehicle and hence the required battery size. Minimal usage of materials also lowers construction costs.

Citroen E-3POD Antistatic Concept: ultralight, micro segment electric three-wheeler

The lowered weight is emphasized in design elements such as the rear wheel, which works as a supportive structural element, the shared suspension for both front wheels, and the use of scratch resistant plastic for the canopy. The silent electric engines also make sound insulation redundant, allowing for lighter material selection.

The E-3POD provides the user with easy, cost efficient transport with access to easier parking due to the small footprint of the vehicle and the likelihood that parking costs will continue to rise will further enhance the attractiveness of the vehicle. The design also provides comfortable and isolated personal space, which - when compared to bicycles or public transport - is a welcome addition. The short length of the vehicle makes it agile in urban environments. At higher speeds the E-3POD tilts slightly to provide solid grip and an emphasised stance, giving cornering a more responsive feel.

Heikki Juvonen’s E-3POD Antistatic was chosen as the best overall design by representatives from Citroën’s Style Centre and Electric Vehicle Development Team. As his prize, Heikki receives a six month employment contract to work at the prestigious PSA Design Centre in Paris. Heikki commented, “I’m thrilled Citroën selected my design as their favourite and I can’t wait to work with their talented team in France. As a designer I strive for new and better solutions. Good and sustainable design not only improves manufacturer brand image and sales, but can also help to preserve our environment.”

The project was jointly sponsored by Citroën and EXA, a France-based aerodynamic simulation software company. Citroen has a long association with the Royal College of Art. Mark Lloyd, the chief designer of the Citroen DS3, studied at the Royal College of Art.

Citroen E-3POD Antistatic Concept: ultralight, micro segment electric three-wheeler

Citroën had significant involvement throughout the Double Challenge project, providing industry figures to lend the students their expertise and experience, as well as organising a trip to the PSA Design Centre and Le Conservatoire, Citroën’s in-house museum of historic models.

Philippe Holland, Responsable Style Graphique at Citroën, said; “We’re delighted to be involved in this important RCA project. The students have produced some truly exceptional ideas for the future design of electric Citroën vehicles. This type of powertrain is increasingly recognised as an important solution for economically and environmentally viable urban transport; so it’s fantastic to see the electric visions of these potential car designers of tomorrow.”

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
17 Comments

Umm ... How is the driver supposed to see past that big white thing in front of the driver's face? And how does the driver get into and out of the vehicle?

But seriously, I think this class of light-weight vehicles make good sense for everyday commuting, both in size and energy usage.

Wombat56
8th February, 2011 @ 03:19 pm PST

Great idea - except for the wheel in the face visibility issue....

For that = Dumb .

Still setting the developers loose in busy traffic on a bicycle with a blindfold on should solve that.

Mr Stiffy
8th February, 2011 @ 06:54 pm PST

Having the driver's weight high over the single rear wheel, which has ZERO resistance to rolling over, is bad CG placement- unless this is supposed to be a tilter.

3 wheels can be as stable as 4, but to work, the CG position is critical.

William H Lanteigne
8th February, 2011 @ 08:13 pm PST

I'm a real fan of innovative three-wheeled vehicles like the (belated) Carver, but really Citroën (and gizmag too)? All the great tech in the world and you're choosing to highlight this poorly conceived contraption where the over-sized wheel is blocking the windshield?

yrag
8th February, 2011 @ 08:40 pm PST

How can such a "wheel in the face"-stupidity win anything? Well, good luck, Citroën!

Rune Winsevik
9th February, 2011 @ 12:07 am PST

Nice looks ! Needs some refining towards practicality, though...

I've been driving a full-electric three-wheeler for 13 years now, to full satisfaction.

It's called a TWIKE. Two-seater, with optional pedals (recommended !!) and regenerative braking.

Will be hard to beat...

Fouture
9th February, 2011 @ 04:56 am PST

Ouch my neck hurts looking past that tire. A Royal pain in the neck. Make it a 2-seater or give the driver a video windshield. Make the wheel discontinous, so you see the road between the tire segments as they fly by. Make the tire a net or a jump rope, make it a razor-thin brush. Mr. Obama would you please take control of Citroen for a few months and fix the student loan system at RCA?

sk8sonh2o
9th February, 2011 @ 06:30 am PST

Besides the obvious visibility issues there is another major flaw with this concept. How is the rear wheel attached to the vehicle?

If it is using mag-lev this would provide very low resistance but would easily push this out of the "cheap to build" category.

If it is using wheels/beerings above the driver then this would not provide low resistance and any debris picked up from the road would easily cause mechanical problems.

Matt
9th February, 2011 @ 08:48 am PST

How much do you suppose it will cost to fix a flat or replace a tire on that rear wheel?

Lsaguy
9th February, 2011 @ 09:08 am PST

Yeah...and that big wheel and housing looks like a giant sail too!

Ed
9th February, 2011 @ 01:19 pm PST

And that's why I have such utter disdain for engineers and conceptual designers, regardless of how educated they may be, not one of them displays even a basic grasp of common sense or practicality. It's my opinion that no piece of complex equipment should be finalized until a production spec prototype has been completely operated and serviced by it's designers, then maybe durable goods will start to be user friendly and of practical design. Sure it's "cute' and "trendy" looking, but with a frontal blind spot of that magnitude it's an accident waiting to be built!

Facebook User
9th February, 2011 @ 01:57 pm PST

This is yet another one of these insane "design" concepts that keep on getting thrown up here. I honestly don't understand what possible benefit even posting something so obviously flawed can offer.

Issues that can be simply identified at a glance;

Visibility; As mentioned a number of times above HOW DO YOU SEE?

Suspension; While there are hubless wheel offerings around the shop they STILL NEED SUSPENSION. There is no suspension apparent on this vehicle and it could not be implemented without having a structural wheel support incorperated under the bodywork which would then require a floating subframe suspended under the cowling, widening still further the tyre area which you're somehow supposed to see through.

Stability; To provide any stability a trike must have its center of gravity well within a tetrahedron defined by the three contact patches and the intersection of the three lines pointed inward and upward at 45 degrees, if this isn't done then it will fall over in normal operation. This design WILL FALL OVER in normal operation.

Steering; In its present configuration this design is incapable of turning corners, apparently the front is intended to be suspended on it own, which means that there are no mechanical joints to steer with.

There are also less apparent issues with the fact that there is no demonstration of where the power supply and motors would interface with the wheels, how the brakes are applied etc. Total front end suspension would also cause massive issues with ride quality, which would likely be punishing to say the least.

Drew__1
9th February, 2011 @ 02:34 pm PST

The visibility issue is simply a monitor screen located over the offending wheel on the inside of the driver's compartment & the same ingenuity that went into the Concept design could easily address the other 'insurmountable' issues...DUH!!

Elvin Ramdass
10th February, 2011 @ 01:00 am PST

I like the look. and the idea of sitting high in a small vehicle. I also like the out-of-the-box idea of sitting in the wheel even though its not a mono-wheel type vehicle. But there are issues. However, the placing of this on Gizmag is great because others will see it and improve the concept. I think micro-light cars are a great idea. Because as the article states, most people cannot afford NOT to have at least one large vehicle for various reasons. If we could have something like this, where the price and fuel usage are very low. If people cannot afford a second vehicle they obviously wont buy one. But if I spend $50,000 for a work truck (Because I need that vehicles capabilities in order to make a living) and for another $4,000 I can have a runabout; why wouldn't I do that? It just makes sense. Yes there are numerous issues to be dealt with in THIS vehicle, but the basic idea of micro-light cars is great. And might I add that the center of gravity is not as much an issue as some people here believe it to be. Batteries are horribly heavy(my guess in this vehicle about 200lbs) and would be mounted low and forward, thus offsetting the driver position. And you have front-wheel-drive so the wheel motors are mounted low and forward yet again; another 100lbs or more.(this could be achieved with a diesel engine and its various power-train components.) Further offsetting the drivers rearward position. The visibility is an easy fix...two rear wheels instead of one; or move the rear wheel back behind the driver. And the rear suspension should be integrated into the actual wheel or wheel hub and not the chassis. Front suspension can be trailing link independent style. My personal interpretation of this design is a might bit longer. Longer wheelbase provides for more stability and easier driving at higher speeds. The micro-light automobile will still need to travel along side other vehicles on the freeway in and around urban areas.(That is why I like the high seating position, visibility is life in a vehicle this small. See the Aprilia Magnet- awesome concept but you'd want to mount a flag to the back so you don't get run over!) And should be capable of at least having reasonable range so as to be of value for those folks who live in suburban and rural areas. This might be accomplished by having both electric, hybrid or fuel powered options. (I personally would try for a tiny turbo diesel. Low emissions and plenty of torque)I totally agree with the engineer comments! I am an engineer/designer/R*badamp*D, but as one person stated that engineers should do, we DO personally use and service the designs we make. We even help in the construction of our designs the first time in order to get a grasp and understanding of how simple or difficult it is to construct.(yes I can weld. lol) We also take into consideration materials and their costs(keep waste to a minimum), manufacturing systems and methods, shipping and packaging costs and target market. If nobody can afford it, it wont sell. (LOL) And I don't see these concept engineers thinking of those things.

Bear.in.camo
15th February, 2011 @ 08:05 am PST

I am overjoyed to see my competition in the "between bike and car" niche, (or are there several niches there?)

Yeah, the shop time to remove, repair and replace that rear is a deal killer! Not a roadside picnic I suspect.

Drew, you know Citroen has a long "onsolete" system integrating front and rear springs (one on left and one on right), but I like that Ford transverse springs are still driven and that under chevy hotrod rat cars! That is known to work, plus the solid axle, not I.R.S. has the best roll coupling specs, which is why real stump and rock crawlers can still do them real justice.

A longer wheelbase is geometrically superior because the shoulders come inside the lines from the front wheel contacts to the rear wheel contact. You then need to lift the c.g. where as with a short base, it merely falls over. Much as falling off a rail as opposed falling off a cot between rails...

And yes- taller please. It Must be the SAME Height as regular vehicles to be seen in the mix. I'm 6 foot, I prefer a sedan hi: say up to my chinny chin? about 5foot2 , leadlights of blue, turn sigs, optional winter heater and defroster and night camera and a few hambands plus cb.

Bear-in Camo...I know that's a lot of add-ons, but the basics, will you consider the basics at that quoted $4,000 U.S.? How much KwH of battery can I get in for that? ouch- lead yet I guess, like in the E-dragsters using spiralcells..and maybe - Oh all of the motors under $thousands are China made - but perhaps a 750 Watt or in Our old terms 1 h.p.

Bear in camo- call me At gmail...I want to talk. call it market research on my part. P.S. I need a reliable welder in Puget Sound, Wa...

waltinseattle
23rd February, 2011 @ 01:05 pm PST

Though we're years away from a world where every commuter owns an electric, lightweight vehicle such as this one, the E-3POD is a perfect example of what's possible for the cars of the future. By using lightweight materials such as plastics, automakers like Citroën are creating a whole new standard for electric vehicles that are both advanced in design and incredibly fuel-efficient.

Read more about plastics in cars on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/plasticcar

Rob Krebs
9th March, 2011 @ 10:12 am PST

At first I thought the same as most commenters but then began to think of solving the issues mentioned. Tire problems? how about run flat or a tire compound not requiring air and thus no maintenance.

Vision blockage why not optics/mirrors/screen on either side of the "obstructed area" making it invisible.

Another problem not mentioned is lack of suspension for the mono wheel but suppose that to could be overcome. Making this a tilting trike would be easy and a must for good handling and comfort.

dgate
3rd July, 2012 @ 05:06 am PDT
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