The cars that tend to interest me the most right now are at the extreme low end of the spectrum. Whatever the opposite of supercars are— üntercars, or something.
Sure, cars like the new McLaren P1 are fascinating and incredible, but if you're going to throw around that kind of money at a car of course it's going to be amazing. Duh. The real challenge is making something incredible for next to nothing, and that's what Mobius Motors is trying to do with their $6,000 car for Africa.
Mobius has developed and has been testing their second prototype, the Mobius Two. It's a rugged 4x4, built with conventional, proven parts, that will sell for about $6000. It uses a simple tube-frame chassis, mostly flat body panels for ease of fabrication, an off-the-shelf common Toyota drivetrain, and almost no glass. You can see some other borrowed parts in there, like taillights from a Type II VW Bus. It's configurable to hold up to 8 people, or act as a sort of pickup truck.
Design-wise, it looks a bit like a cross between a Citröen FAF and a Range Rover, which is probably the effect of convergent evolution at play. It's handsome, in a utilitarian sort of way.
Mobius was founded by Joel Jackson, a British former computer science guy who looks like he's twelve. While working on other projects in Kenya, he realized the urgent need for a better transportation system in rural parts of Africa. He realized that in the rough terrain and rural areas, this meant tough, cheap passenger cars. He couldn't really find any reasonable options, and realized that building their own car locally was the best option for many reasons.
The car is invaluable not just for getting people where they need to go, but to foster new business development, acting as medical service vehicles and ambulances, delivering much needed water to rural areas, providing take-off power and electricity for farm and other equipment, and essentially becoming the moving force behind a new economic infrastructure. We take cars for granted, no matter how much we love them, and seeing the potential for good a reliable, cheap vehicle can have in a remote society is powerful.
This is an exciting project, and one that pushes automotive boundaries and technology as much as any new electric vehicle or supercar, albeit in a markedly different way.
I'll be ready when you're looking for an L.A. dealer. I figure if you throw an iPod dock and some blingy rims on there, I can sell these to all the hipsters and whatnot, right?