Concept UTILITARIAN - Designed for the TINNGO project by Sanjeevi Suganthi Pugazhenthi
SANJEEVI SUGANTHI PUGAZHENTHI
Design an innovative, robust and low cost multi-purpose vehicle to meet the needs of rural women in Europe. It should
- assist them with their small business (e.g.) selling crafts/ products
- enable them to take children/ other dependents to school, etc.
- enable them to connect with community (prevent isolation)
In response to the brief, the concept is developed as a vehicle which is positioned in between a motorcycle and a car, a ‘quadricycle’. This utilitarian vehicle has a cargo bed and accommodates two passengers & a driver. The design of the vehicle is minimalistic and focuses on the ‘experience’ of the users. It is a utility oriented vehicle that would cost less than a car. This compact vehicle enables rural women to be independent, connect with markets & community and helps them commute safely with their children/ dependents.
The vehicle is conceptualized with refined proportions so that it looks robust in spite of its small footprint (dimensions). The small footprint helps users park the vehicle in small spaces and drive through narrow roads. The side silhouette of the vehicle is distinctive with a drop down roof line [shown in Figure 1]. A wrap around feature line runs across the vehicle enhancing the length and width [Figure 2 & 3]. The feature line encloses the club doors’ handles with notches inspired from the roof line. Club doors are provided for better ingress and egress for users [illustrated in Figure 4]. Unlike pick-up trucks, the cargo bed has a roof over it to protect the cargo (users might transport farm products, fruits & vegetables, flowers, dairy products, crafts, etc.). A ‘utility surface’ is provided on the bonnet / hood for users to keep their items (coffee, bag, water bottle, mobile phone, etc.) while standing next to the vehicle [illustrated in Figure 5]. Users could use this utility surface without getting into the vehicle to keep something for a moment. The concept, ‘Utilitarian’ is proposed with the use of sustainable materials. This vehicle could be made with an aluminium frame and hemp composite body panels. Interior panels could be made from bamboo & jute composite and seats could be made from Pinatex (natural textile from pineapple leaf fibre).
After several discussions within the UK Hub team, it was decided that the proposed concept would have both Internal Combustion Engine and Electric propulsion options for the user to choose. Petrol engines are being used for decades and people in rural areas might be familiar with them to do any repair work. Petrol stations would be available around them thereby eliminating anxiety of refuelling. It would be cost effective if an existing engine (like a 400 cc engine in Suzuki Burgman scooter) is used in the vehicle with a gear reduction system for increased torque. On the other hand, low powered electric motors are also cost effective. The transition towards electric mobility for sustainability might motivate users to choose electric propulsion. Charging stations / battery swapping stations have to be available nearby as the range of the vehicle would be around 50 miles. Maximum speed would be capped at 45mph for safety. [Package drawing is shown in Figure 6].
The cargo bed measures 950*1300*900 mm approximately and has a payload capacity of 1100 pounds/ 500 kg approximately (three medium sized crates and a milk churn could fit in the cargo bed). Anchor points are provided on both sides for user to divide the bed or restrain cargo [shown in Figure 7]. The tailgate opens like a drawer which makes it unique. When the user pulls out the tailgate, it slides out along with an ‘additional bed’ (second layer underneath the main cargo bed) while two leg supports drop down and stabilize the tailgate. This forms a table for the user to pull out some cargo and display at market place [illustrated in Figure 8].
The two passenger seats are located on either side of the driver seat with an offset (for better ingress / egress & legroom). Sliding windows are provided to reduce complexity (inspired from the 1959 Mini) [shown in Figure 9]. There is an interesting feature on the roof, the ‘Pop up panels’ for increased ventilation. Users could pop up the roof panels by releasing couple of latches on the roof and stow them in the tunnel storage [shown in Figure 9]. The vehicle is equipped with basic heating system to make users comfortable during winter. Dashboard is simple with necessary displays, a glove box on the left and a safe box on the right [shown in Figure 10]. Users could keep money / valuable items in this pull out safe box (lock & key).