Although I live by a river, I don't own a boat so am not faced with having to drag a trailer down to the water's edge and unload my dinghy every time I want to cross the great expanse. I might just be persuaded to spend more time on the water, though, if there was something like the Manta waiting outside my front door. The sporty-looking three-wheeler concept is designed to be run on twin electric motors, with the rear wheels taking care of propulsion on water as well as on the road. The design is amongst the entries chosen by this year's Michelin Challenge Design judges for display at a the recent North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
First launched in 2001, the Michelin Challenge Design was created by Michelin North America to spotlight creative thinking and innovative vehicle design. The first Challenge managed to attract just 125 entries, but this year there have been a record 970, and 34 of those were recently chosen by judges to be shown at the 2011 NAIAS.
The Manta, by Belgium's David Cardoso Loureiro, was amongst those chosen and has been designed for those who live near water but don't want to bother swapping vehicles for travel on water and land. Many amphibious vehicle examples already exist of course, but this three-wheeler concept is a little different. The single-occupancy vehicle is electrically-powered – although exact motor details are not mentioned – and the two rear wheels are designed to power the craft on land or on water.
Many modern cars sport wheels with covers/hubs that look like propeller blades, but the Manta wheels are actual blades. The wheels turn 90 degrees to provide propulsion for the craft when in water. It isn't clear whether this process would also be used to control direction on the water, as there is no rudder visible on the renderings, but each rear wheel would be independently-powered.
It's unlikely to achieve the kind of speeds or distance offered by the likes of the WaterCar Python, but could be just the thing for a short jaunt over to the other side of the lake, and beyond.
Would such a design actually work? Loureiro seems to think so, saying that his concept would be "relatively simple to make, it can be a low cost vehicle that gives the driver great driving sensations." What do you think?