May 7, 2008 Following its preview late last year and head turning debut at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, it's time we took a closer look at the sQuba - a James Bond inspired, zero-emissions, electric aqua-car from Frank M. Rinderknecht and the concept magicians at Rinspeed that "moves like a fish in water" to depths of up to 33 feet (10 meters) and still manages to reach speeds of around 75mph (120kmh) when on terra firma.
Continuing its ongoing relationship with Rinspeed, Swiss engineering firm Esoro was hired as the general contractor on the project - which amazingly took only six months complete - and replacing the combustion engine with a series of electric motors was the first task. A single 54 kW motor mounted at the rear powers the sQuaba on land with a total of four additional engines providing the seagoing drive - 2 x 800W units drive the twin stern propellers and up front, 2 x 3.6kW Seabob jet drives which "breathe" through special rotating louvers complete the vehicles swimming attributes.
The first thing that seems unusual about the sQuba is that its an open top vehicle, which doesn't seem quite right for an underwater excursion. It's also lightweight at 920kg and actually floats when driven into the water and doesn't begin to descend until water is let in through the door - which is about the time you might want to reach for the integrated scuba set-up which provides breathing air via on-board storage tanks for both occupants. Rinderknecht cites safety as one reason for using this design: "For safety reasons we have built the vehicle as an open car so that the occupants can get out quickly in an emergency. With an enclosed cabin opening the door might be impossible.” In addition the open-top design enables weight to be kept down: "With an enclosed volume of just two cubic meters of air the vehicle weight would have to increase by two tons to counteract the unwanted buoyancy, giving the “sQuba” the land mobility of a turtle. Without occupants the “sQuba” surfaces automatically."
Fortunately the interior of the one-off concept is built to stand the punishment of a marine environment - the salt-water resistant interior from Strähle + Hess features genuine mother-of-pearl trim and diamond-plated non-slip inlays from KGS Diamond.
More at home in the water where it will do 6kmh on the surface and 3kmh underwater, sQuba still achieves 0-50mph (0-80kmh) in 7.1 seconds on dry land and can reach a top speed of around 75mph. It can even claim the ability to drive itself on land using a sophisticated laser sensor system from the Hamburg company Ibeo.
Read on for a technical data or visit the gallery for more images.
RINSPEED sQuba TECHNICAL DATA
- Length 3'785 mm
- Width 1''940 mm
- Height 1'117 mm
- Wheelbase 2’300 mm
- Track front 1’470 mm
- Track rear 1’520 mm
- Ground clearance 130 mm
- Empty weight approx. 920kg
- Top speed > 120 km/h
- Acceleration 0-80 km/h 7.1 sec
- Water speed > 6 km/h
- Under water speed > 3 km/h
- Dive depth 10 m
- Street: Electric Power output max. 54 kWat 4'500 /min; Torque 160 NM at 1'500 /min
- Water: Stern propellers, Electric Power output 2 x 800
- Diving: bow jet drives Electric Power output 2 x 3.6 kW Rotinor
- Batteries Lithium-Ionen
- Voltage 6 x 48 Volt
- Power train Rear wheel drive
- Gearbox R - N - F
- Chassis Steel
- Body panels Carbon Nano Tubes
- Seating capacity 2
- Front suspension Double wishbone
- Rear suspension Double wishbone
- Dampers/springs KW automotive
- Steering Rack & pinion
- Front tires Pirelli P Zero 205/40 R17
- Front wheels AEZ 7.5 x 17"
- Rear tires Pirelli P Zero 225/40 R18
- Rear wheels AEZ 8 x 18"
- Air supply 1 x 15 liter + 1 x 18 liter ScubaPro
- Laser scanner Ibeo
- Lubricants Motorex