Current Competitive Intelligence project at work had me looking around at some ‘eco’ vehicles that are due to be launched within the next year or so. There’s the Aptera, a fairly extreme iteration of aerodynamic design which has taken upwards of 5K orders and is due for launch towards the end of this year. I’m more intrigued though, by the Mindset. I saw the prototype of this car in Wallpaper last year. Its thin-wheel, long-wheelbase proportions were instantly something new – though at the same time comfortingly familiar. There’s a more than a hint of Karmann Ghia around the front-end. Almost a 911 reference about the fender/wheelarches. Maybe not so surprising given it was designed by ex-VW designer Murat Guenak. Clearly – it’s been designed as a desirable automotive object first, an envrironmentally-sound car second.
Check out the link in the bottom right of their main page – it opens up a page of great little films – one of which; ‘”what does your car for your climax?” (which has a cheeky Aphex-Twin soundtrack) shows a pedal-car tootling around a Swiss town. The interesting point being people’s generally positive reaction to a small, personable, friendly, almost comical car. Gone is the driver / pedestrian conflict, the feeling that in an urban environment a car can be an anti-social and potentially lethal weapon.
What I like about the Mindset is that it’s an optimistic automotive outlook, one that doesn’t ‘de-car’ the car. We love cars because they represent freedom, self-expression, sex-appeal, and our individuality. The negative baggage that has developed with mass car ownership we prefer to ignore. But Mindset is the first, and I’m sure not the last, of the new eco-OEMS that celebrates all those positives, but addresses the negatives without having to make a compromise. It’s quick: 0-60 in 7 seconds, and has the right enviro-credentials…the downside right now is the projected price; £45K. I sincerely hope economies of scale bring this down to a much more realistic level, otherwise this’ll be a museum peice….and that’ll be a tragedy.