Is it a phone? Is it a car? No, it's an iChange. Yes in a desperate bid to rejuvinate the moribund motor vehicle industry, Swiss auto powerhouse Rinspeed is hoping its revolutionary new car will have the heads turning at the Geneva Motor Show next week, just as the iPhone had geeks the world over turning crimson with desire when it launched two years ago.
The new super-car, Sneak learns, is in many ways built around the iPhone. As Rinspeed explains: "Gone are such mundane things as a key. Its role is filled by an Apple iPhone, which also controls the most important vehicle functions." Yes, you plug the iPhone into the dashboard to unlock the car and start the engine etc.
And that's not where the innovation ends, oh no. It can change its shape too: "At the push of a button the rear end of the teardrop-shaped car magically pops up", and the one-seater vehicle has suddenly become a three-person car. It's lithum-ion powered too (of course) and is fitted with more state-of-the-art technology than there is in Sneak's entire bedsit. Which is a lot.
An Intel processeor-powered Harman/Kardon infotainment system, a 3-D vehicle navigation system which calculates the most enegery-saving route, and high-performance auxiliary car heaters from the Esslingen-based Eberspächer Group to name but some of the whizz-bangery. According to the Rinspeed boss Frank Rinderknecht, the vehicle is more than just a clever concept car, it is "a symbol for the fundamental changes the auto industry is undergoing worldwide". Sneak would love a spin, only problem is he doesn't have an iPhone. Wonder if it works with a Nokia instead?
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