The new MOTIV city car from Gordon Murray Design is red on top, white on the bottom, and can only hold one passenger at a time. It’s an autonomous electric pod that contains its occupant when in transit, and pops open to release them when it’s time to go to work. Yep, that’s a Poké Ball alright.
The single-seater street car is designed to provide a method of travel for the people who often commute solo (most of the world) which has as little impact on the environment and traffic patterns as possible. It’s just 64 inches tall, 100 inches long, and 51 inches wide, meaning it’ll take up less room on the road, and perhaps most importantly less room in parking situations.
The point of this thing is to reduce carbon emissions for commuting through busy cities, aiming to replace emissions heavy single occupancy in a large combustion engine vehicle with this little electric pod. That said, it is configurable to allow two passengers (probably in quite a bit of discomfort), can be adapted for wheelchair transport, and can be emptied out completely for 39 cubic feet of goods delivery.
It’s quite clear that this little shuttle is only aimed at city life, as it has a top speed of around 40 miles per hour from a 20kW (about 27 horsepower) electric motor. The 17.3kWh battery pack provides a range of around 60 miles, which is plenty if you aren’t leaving big cities. I could see something like this thriving in a city like San Francisco, just stay off the highways. With CCS charging, it can refill from 20% to 80% battery in 40 minutes, which seems way too long for the range.
The MOTIV makes use of Gordon Murray Design’s iStream Superlight technology, which uses a high-strength extruded aluminum iFrame chassis, composite bodywork, and aluminum suspension to keep weight down. Before the batteries are added, the MOTIV chassis weighs just 990 pounds. The single gullwing door is a pretty interesting choice. Personally, I dig the door.
According to a recent Transport for London survey, single occupancy trips account for as much as 60% of all driving, while undefined length “local journeys” can be as high as 80% single occupancy. Across the rest of Europe, occupancy rates range from 1.1 to 1.2 people per vehicle mile traveled.
This project was taken on with support and assistance from the British government. The first prototype is being shown today at the MOVE 2020 show in London, and is intended for both consumers and mobility-as-a-service companies. It was designed from the outset to be homologated to UK roads as a quadricycle to reduce the cost of tax and ownership, but it allegedly conforms to European passenger car (M1) crash safety standards. That’s supposedly thanks to Murray’s stiff and light chassis. I’m not sure how that can be the case, however, as I don’t think any of these have actually been crash tested yet.
Crucially, the MOTIV has not been developed with the autonomous software installed, but it has the high-voltage wiring harness and processing power built in to adapt any company’s stand-alone autonomous digital architecture. This wouldn’t be a bad way to start implementing geofenced autonomy, if you ask me. I’d consider taking a ride across town in a Poké Ball shared mobility pod thing. It has most of the convenience and eco-friendliness of taking an electric scooter, but with a roof to keep you out of the weather. Why not?
I kinda dig this cute little bugger. I’d prefer to go without the autonomous gubbins though.