The Rinspeed iChange concept, headed to the Geneva Motor Show, is touted as the world's first adaptive car-body based on passenger count thanks to a magical rear end. Also, it's controlled with an iPhone.
Seriously, the Swiss auto tuning company claims "In seconds a streamlined one-seater sports car transforms into a comfortable car with ample room for three. The trick: At the push of a button the rear end of the teardrop-shaped car magically pops up." Wow, who knew there was such a thing as a magical rear end?
Anyway, the iCharge is powered by an electric motor mated to lithium-ion batteries available in two different stack configurations, one for short- and one for long-distance. Both choices will apparently be charged by any electric power source including solar. The motor produces 150kW, giving the car a top speed of 220 km/h (137 MPH) and a 0-to-100 km/h (0-to-62 MPH) time of slightly more than four seconds — thanks to a six-speed gearbox borrowed from the Subaru WRX.
And of course, this being a concept car, the key and every other control function is replaced by an Apple iPhone. Yes, that includes the "next-gen" Harman/Kardon "infotainment system" which includes an ability to display directions in a "realistic 3D view." The rest of the amazingly long press release below the interior shots.
Swiss Automobile Visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht Builds a Concept Car with Adaptive Energy Concept
iChange" Alters its Shape - and Automotive Thinking
Zumikon, Switzerland - World debut at the Geneva Motor Show 2009 (March 5th-15th): The Swiss auto
powerhouse Rinspeed presents the ‘iChange,' the world's first car whose body adapts to the number
of passengers on board. For Rinspeed boss Rinderknecht the vehicle is more than just a clever
concept car. "The "iChange" is a symbol for the fundamental changes the auto industry undergoes
worldwide. And it is clear that only those companies will survive that have innovative answers for the
demands of a new automotive era." The visionary Rinderknecht is convinced that the days of gas-
guzzling behemoths are coming to an end: "The "iChange" is a signal for the coming global changes to
individual mobility. We need to be ready to meet these challenges with new ideas."
In seconds a streamlined one-seater sports car transforms into a comfortable car with ample room for
three. The trick: At the push of a button the rear end of the teardrop-shaped car magically pops up.
"We have designed and built an extremely flexible vehicle. In it we have brought the themes of
versatility and continually changing energy demands to their logical conclusions." The result is a
streamlined, lightweight zero-emission car with dramatically reduced energy consumption.
The basic idea behind the ‘iChange:': The energy demand of a vehicle depends mostly on its weight,
the type of engine it uses, and its aerodynamic properties. The engineering-services company Esoro
that traditionally builds Rinspeed concept cars has built an extremely lightweight car weighing in at
only 1'050 kilograms. To power the car, the Swiss specialists chose an electric motor. The idea of the
pop-up rear end was conceived to account for the sizeable effect aerodynamics play in fuel
While other cars always have to ferry around their puffed-up exteriors that can accommodate up to
seven passengers even if they're just transporting a single soul, the "iChange" features an adaptive
body. The sole driver is conveyed in a teardrop-shaped car that offers optimal aerodynamic properties
and thus minimized energy consumption. If more than one person need to be transported the
expanding rear provides room for two passengers. As a result of the increased weight and no longer
optimal aerodynamics the energy consumption increases - but only for the time passengers are
actually on board.
The energy for the electric motor comes from lithium-ion batteries that are available in two different
stack configurations for short- and long-distance driving. The electric motor of the "iChange" produces
150kW, capable of propelling the car to a top speed of 220 km/h. The sprint from rest to 100 km/h
takes just slightly over four seconds. This impressive performance is made possible with the help of a
six-speed pre-selector gearbox from the Subaru WRX car. The central research department of
Siemens AG (Corporate Technology, CT) supplied the integration technology for engine/generator,
electronics and battery connection interface. Siemens has long been one of the world leaders for
energy systems and eco technology with pioneering concepts for electric drive systems. Its products
cover the entire electric value-added chain from generation to distribution to consumption. The
gearbox and drivetrain are lubricated with eco-friendly lubricants from Motorex. Custom-made
lightweight 17" and 18" forged wheels with aerodynamic shrouds are supplied by light-alloy wheel
specialists AEZ. Pirelli P Zero tires in size 215/40-17 in front and size 245/40-18 in back provide
An initial walk-around reveals that the concept car has no doors. The entire electrically powered roof
section of the car measuring just 1.03 meters in height tilts forward to allow passengers to board. Also
gone are such mundane things as a key. Its role is filled by an Apple iPhone, which also controls the
most important vehicle functions. The "iChange" is drastically different than ordinary cars in every
detail: At the heart of the concept car lies the groundbreaking next-generation Harman/Kardon
infotainment system. The system uses an innovative Intel processor technology that guarantees
minimized power consumption. The same is true for the Harman/Kardon high-efficiency audio system.
This revolutionary technology meets highest demands on sound quality, weighs much less than
ordinary systems and at the same time uses only a fraction of energy. This opens the door to a new
dimension of energy efficiency. The route guidance of the navigation system is also especially eco-
friendly: The system calculates the most energy-saving route and displays the directions in realistic 3D view. Eberspächer Group from Esslingen, Germany is one of the world leaders in car heaters.
Specifically for the "iChange" project Eberspächer developed custom-tailored electric and fuel-burning
heating systems. Both systems are geared toward the specific requirements and conditions of electric
The pure wool used in the interior was further refined into high-tech wool by Schoeller using state-of-
the-art processes. The wool is spun and died in accordance with the highest eco standards. It provides
an extremely extravagant ambiance in the ‘iChange,' looks stunning and is delicate to the touch. The
competence partner Strähle + Hess transformed this natural product into a striking interior. Its surface
character and materiality combine to create a symbiosis of shell, firmness and frothy air.
Unconventional techniques create unusual surfaces. The seams of the seats are reversed and the
removable seats cushions are adorned with the prototype's name. Xmobil provided further
customization services. While textiles can be found in the "iChange" in their original form in other
areas, they are newly interpreted on seats and cargo floor using various refinement techniques such
as braiding and gathering and a combination of both. Leather strips alternate with technical textiles.
The seat cushions are interchangeable, braided felt alternates with technical textiles formed into three-
dimensional shapes. This transfers the adaptive concept of the "iChange" to the interior as well. The
diamond-coated anti-slip floor is supplied by abrasives specialist KGS.
The Swiss Federal Ministry for Energy (Bundesamt für Energie) supports the "iChange" project as a
groundbreaking research and development project. Solar panels on the top and sides of the roof
provide electricity to the fan to keep temperatures in the "iChange" comfortably low on hot summer
days. The large Sharp solar panels also provide additional eco-friendly charging of the batteries.
With the "iChange" Rinderknecht, a passionate C. F. Bucherer watch wearer, and his partners once
more want to provide food for thought for the automotive industry. The Swiss car visionary: "If we want
to maintain our individual mobility in the future we have to rethink the car in its entirety, without taboos.
Most of all, we have to take its ecological aspects into consideration." And in the end everyone has to
personally answer the same question: Am I ready and willing to change myself, do and can ‘I change'?
Esoro - Swiss Made
Frank M. Rinderknecht used highly advanced technology and a Swiss-based network of top
automotive specialists for his project. So the Rinspeed "iChange" fits perfectly to Esoros motto:
engineered by Esoro - What you dream is what you get.
For the tenth time the Swiss engineering company Esoro was hired to serve as general contractor for
the entire project. Esoro was responsible for project management, implementation of new
technologies, engineering, rendering, design and the manufacturing of the Rinspeed "iChange". Esoro
realized the Rinspeed "iChange" with the help of its competent suppliers. Starting with initial concepts,
it took the highly skilled development team just six months to realize the entire project. For 18 years
now, Esoro has been a contract developer of concept vehicles, components and products with main
focus on lightweight construction and mobility. During this time it has gained a well-deserved
reputation for excellent efficiency and innovative solutions, which is demonstrated by numerous
prototypes and serial products. Esoro develops fiber reinforced components from initial conception up
to pre-production samples. In-house specialists optimize the component properties and characteristics
throughout the entire development process. Important steps are non-linear, strong orthotropic Finite
Element Analysis and crash simulation.
Another recent development from Esoro is the new E-LFT production technology developed for Weber
Automotive. E-LFT makes large scale production of high-strength and lightweight composite parts
affordable. E-LFT composite parts weigh more than 30 percent less than comparable steel parts. The
tailgate of the actual smart fortwo – the first serial produced E-LFT-component – was produced over
200'000 times since 2007 and received the JEC Innovation Automotive Award 2008. Furthermore
another production process for niche markets, like high performance cars, trucks and caravans is now
under development at Esoro. The new and patented process called Melt Embossing offers the
possibility to produce high end thermoplastic composite parts with low initial invest for structural and
Since the company was founded, Esoro has been working intensively in the field of conception,
implementation and tests of alternative and optimized vehicle concepts and drive systems. Esoro is operation of electric, hybrid and fuel cell drives. The Rinspeed "iChange" proves impressively this
competence using cutting edge technology.
Electric shape-changer: a sports car or a sports van? Rinspeed "iChange" - forward-looking ideas on
The Motor Show in Geneva is traditionally the place where Frank M. Rinderknecht presents his
visions. For years he and his company Rinspeed have been presenting environmentally-friendly,
practical and extravagant creations, which offer possible solutions for the future of automobiles. And
now joining him for the third time is: AEZ, the renowned manufacturer of premium light-metal wheels.
Following the eXasis and the underwater car sQuba, this time the perfect alloys had to be found for
the "iChange". Norbert Frohner, the General Manager of AEZ, said the following: "As with the sQuba
we have created a new wheel, which works almost directly on the blank forging. The task was just as
complex as last year, but also just as different. Although the "iChange" can't go underwater, it is
extremely diverse on land – and that's precisely what the wheel intends to demonstrate."
Frank M. Rinderknecht's latest development is actually a vehicle which adapts to diverse conditions:
First and foremost, thought, the "iChange" is a thoroughbred, futuristic sports car. The AEZ alloys
support this by looking like the wheels on a classic Bugatti - and that suits the streamlined design of
the Rinspeed. In this form the "iChange" is a fun car for one person, but "when the rear is raised as if
by magic" it changes in the blink of an eye into a small sports van for three people. The double spoke
wheel also takes part in the metamorphosis; it fits the spatial wonder like a glove even when the focus
is shifted to the adequate transportation of people.
Dynamics meets versatility - that is this year's topic from Rinspeed. Rinderknecht says: "If we want to
maintain our individual mobility in the future, then we will have to rethink the car disregarding all
taboos." That also means that the vehicle has to adjust to changing conditions. And that explains the
name "iChange". The vehicle concept also comprises, of course, the vehicle technology, as it also has
to adjust to future demands. As is normal with Rinspeed, environmental protection is in the foreground:
an electric engine with 150kW (204 HP) offers decent thrust without harmful emissions. With its large,
enclosed surface, the wheel from AEZ provides even better aerodynamics - it helps to extend the life-
span of the battery and increase the sports potential of the "iChange". Designers and technicians at
AEZ have designed and built an expressive, spectacular alloy for an extraordinary car. It represents
the high-point so far in the cooperation between the wheel producer and Rinspeed.
Durability on four wheels. Carl F. Bucherer supports the "iChange" by Rinspeed
For both Frank M. Rinderknecht, the founder of Rinspeed Concept Cars, and Carl F. Bucherer,
innovation is the driving force of all production. So it is not surprising that the Lucerne watch
manufacturer is supporting the latest of Frank M. Rinderknecht's projects the variable Rinspeed
"iChange". Over 30 years ago, Frank M. Rinderknecht set himself the goal of fulfilling the dreams of
his youth and realizing the vision of the ultimate motor vehicle with his own cult car. His company,
Rinspeed, soon created for itself a unique reputation in the tuning and modification of luxury vehicles
for a financially independent clientele. In parallel with this, Rinspeed became famous for producing
concept and small series cars. In his partnership with international companies in the high-tech field,
Frank M. Rinderknecht actually provided them with a valuable development platform.
Common philosophy, new project: Cars which can drive on water, cars which can drive under water,
cars with transparent bodywork. The concept cars developed by Frank M. Rinderknecht interpret
mobility in a different way. They are the work of a person, who quietly goes his own way. Just as Carl
F. Bucherer, founder of the Lucerne watch brand, used to. This was one of the reasons that CEO
Thomas Morf and Marketing Manager Bruno Jufer decided to support Frank M. Rinderknecht and his
ideas. However, an even greater influence was the common philosophy shared by Carl F. Bucherer
and Rinspeed, demanding technology, top class materials and amazing shapes, all contributing to an
innovative, conceptually convincing final product.
From the sports car to the van: This common philosophy is also foremost in the latest Rinspeed-
Project. The "iChange" is a "1-2-3-seater" with a 150kW-e-motor, whose eye-catching body shape
adapts to the number of passengers by electronic tail magic. At the touch of a knob, one can convert
the single person sports car into a small sports van for three people, exactly like the motto "I change".
As well as in its design, the "iChange" reveals its innovation through its extremely low energy
consumption: the car drives without exhaust emission and boasts a weight and wind resistance
thus one of the few companies in the world with well-founded experience in development and reduced to their minimum. So the Rinspeed "iChange" demonstrates a high potential in the area of
durability, which also represents part of Frank M. Rinderknecht's motivation: "We have put a flexible
vehicle on wheels and, in so doing, the themes of the varied and constantly changing energy
requirements meaningfully thought right through, to take the ecological aspect fully into account",
maintains the car tinker.
Highest Swiss quality: Innovative thinking, the belief in one's own way and today's theme of durability
are also of the utmost importance for Carl F. Bucherer components, and explain why the Lucerne
watch manufacturer is collaborating on this project with Frank M. Rinderknecht. "The Rinspeed
"iChange" stands for change, future-orientated technologies and great passion. This embodies the
Carl F. Bucherer philosophy in a unique way", explains Bruno Jufer, Executive Vice President
Marketing. The "iChange" will be presented to the public for the first time at this year's motor show in
Geneva, taking place from 5th to 15th March. Carl F. Bucherer will be there with Rinspeed. All in all, the
credos of the "iChange" and the watch models of Carl F. Bucherer go perfectly together: the highest
Swiss quality and efficiency, combined with the perpetual search for perfection.
About Carl F. Bucherer: Carl F. Bucherer, registered as Bucherer Montres S.A., is an independent
company with 90 years competency in the production of luxury watches. The Manufacture brand
stands for uncompromising quality and esthetical products with stylish design. It combines the finest
watch making craftsmanship with the highest jewelry competency. The name recognizes the
pioneering achievements of the company's founder of the same name, Carl Friedrich Bucherer. The
Carl F. Bucherer brand was launched in 2001, with the objective of giving more strategic emphasis to
its manufacturing expertise, which had already been successfully demonstrated since 1919. As the
only watch brand located in Central Switzerland, Carl F. Bucherer produces and markets exclusive
ladies and gents watches, thereby building the second arm of the Bucherer Group. Today, the
Bucherer Group is managed by the owner-family. It took the Carl F. Bucherer team only a short time to
develop an effective distribution network and create international consumer awareness for the brand.
In July 2007, Carl F. Bucherer strengthened its market position as a watch manufacturer in the
premium segment with the acquisition of the workshop for the development, research and production
of manufacture movements, Carl F. Bucherer Technologies SA, (formerly Techniques Horlogères
Appliquées SA) in Ste-Croix, and with the launch of its manufacture movement CFB A1000 at
Die Agentur is a full service Ad Agency with its main office in Saarbrücken
Die Agentur develops integral communication solutions. Our services include everything from classic
communication and design to photography and interactive applications. We further expanded with the
establishment of our In-House film production, called Movie Division. Clear, straight to the point and
exceptional communication is our philosophy. Therefore, it is self - evident that an innovative customer
such as Rinspeed is attended to with great care, enthusiasm and passion. Die Agentur was nominated
for Germany's most popular design award 2009.
Die Agentur is responsible for all Rinspeed communication including: Web, PR for the new concept
car, an image film, a making off and a trade fair. Die Agentur has both national and international
clients. Names like Samsonite, BMW, O'Neil, Rinspeed, Coca-Cola and Bertelsmann/Mohn speak for
themselves. Die Agentur currently employs 30 persons.
Eberspächer supplies innovative heating systems for the "iChange"
As do all electric vehicles, the "iChange" from the Swiss design house Rinspeed relies on a powerful,
but economical in-cabin heater: The electric motor simply does not generate enough waste heat to use
for heating the passenger compartment. The concept car appeals because of its transformability not
only with regard to its body, but also with regard to heating, and offers two attractive alternatives. The
Eberspächer Group - headquartered in Esslingen and one of the world's leading manufacturers of
vehicle heaters - developed both a perfectly fitted electric heater and a custom-engineered fuel-
powered heater specifically for the "iChange" project. Both systems are designed to meet the specific
requirements of electric vehicles.
With the electric PTC air heater from Eberspächer catem - global leader in the field of electric auxiliary
heaters - the "iChange" is fit especially for short trips and city traffic: The prototype that was developed specifically for the Rinspeed project was designed for a nominal voltage of 580 volts. Thanks to its fully
insulated construction, the PTC heater is safe from an electrical standpoint. Because of the
aerodynamic shape of the corrugated ribs, the heater body exhibits only a minimal pressure drop on
the air side. With a heating capacity of 5.6 kilowatts, the electric in-cabin heater achieves a high power
density in spite of its extremely compact size: The dimensions of 228 x 167 x 36 millimeters mean that
the air heater requires very little space for installation. Other benefits: The heater's efficiency - the
direct energy conversion from electric energy into thermal energy - is 99 percent. In addition, no
pollutants are emitted during operation of the heater. As a result, the PTC heater is ideal for zero-
emission vehicles intended for use in congested areas to keep the air clean.
Electrical pre heating of the vehicle by a park heating function is also possible - especially during the
For longer trips the Eberspächer Airtronic is the right choice: Since the fuel-powered heater puts no
load on the vehicle's electrical system, the battery capacity is available entirely for driving purposes. In
this way, the "iChange" achieves a considerably greater scope. The Airtronic, also designed
specifically for the concept car, consumes about maximum of 0.43 liters per hour of heating and has
been engineered especially for the combustion characteristics of the alternative, eco-friendly fuel E-85
ethanol. The small 3.5-liter tank disappears cleverly behind the license plate. The major benefit of the
Airtronic is its high energy efficiency: With an efficiency of 84 percent - based on the primary energy
input - it excels when overall CO2 emissions are taken into consideration. Equipped with a catalytic
converter and with nitrogen oxides and particulates filtered out to almost below the detection limit, the
Airtronic appeals not only because of its positive ecological features, but above all because of its rapid
heat output. Moreover, the unit has all the convenience features of a regular Eberspächer park
heating: In the winter, the passenger compartment can be pre-heated and ice-covered windows
cleared without the need for scraping.
In the "iChange", Eberspächer has exemplified two different air heating systems for electric vehicles.
Use of electric or fuel-powered water heaters produced by the company is also conceivable.
Integrated in a cooling water circuit these kind of heating systems are able to pre-heat the sensitive
battery in the winter - holding it capable of cold starts - and cooling it in the summer. Besides electric
water heaters are able to use the waste heat of power electronics, motor and other users for heating
proposes and support so an overall thermal management.
With its many-faceted technologies, Eberspächer truly conveys the meaning behind the name
"iChange": The company provides custom-engineered system solutions for any requirement and thus
positions itself as the specialist for innovative thermal management for the drive concepts of the future.
Harman International sets the standard for energy-efficient audio and infotainment solutions without
"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time".
Harman Becker Automotive Systems, the Automotive Division of Harman International, truly lives this
tenet of French author André Gide, and introduces more than just one energy-efficient audio and
infotainment solution in the Rinspeed "iChange" zero emission concept car. And this without any
compromise in performance and enjoyment.
At the heart of the is the next generation Harman infotainment system. The overall system is designed
to minimize power consumption, which is achieved thanks to the innovative new Intel® processor on
board. The same mindset is applied to the Harman Kardon® GreenEdgeTM high-efficiency audio
system. This revolutionary technology satisfies the highest demands for superb sound reproduction
while dramatically reducing energy consumption and weight, resulting in efficiency levels never before
possible. In the "iChange", a total of twelve Harman Kardon HiETM high efficiency speakers are driven
by a highly efficient eight-channel amplifier. The Class D amplifier, with Harman's uniquely designed
output amplifier stages, achieves efficiency levels in excess of 90 percent, compared to 35 to 50
percent in conventional models. Together this system reduces current required dramatically while
providing a new benchmark in dynamic performance. In addition, the embedded satellite navigation
system calculates the most energy-friendly route, and guides the driver to the destination by means of
a realistic 3D display.
With this entirely new energy-efficient system approach without compromise, the Automotive Division
of Harman International offers a vision of what the technology leader in infotainment and audio will be
offering drivers in the very near future. The car of tomorrow will be permanently "on-line" providing energy-efficiently the best in information, communication and entertainment, with a performance
spectrum that easily competes with any stationary application at home or in the office.
Harman Becker Automotive Systems, the Automotive Division of Harman International, offers leading-
edge infotainment systems for the automotive industry and the aftermarket. Harman International
Industries, Incorporated, designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment
products for the automotive, consumer and professional markets. Harman International maintains a
strong presence in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and employs more than 11,000 people worldwide.
The Harman International family of brands includes AKG®, Audioaccess®, Becker®, BSS®, Crown®,
dbx®, DigiTech®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, Mark Levinson®, Revel®, QNX®,
Soundcraft® and Studer®. Harman International's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "NYSE: HAR."