Famed former BMW head of design Chris Bangle has revealed the latest project from his independent design house – the REDS electric city car, to be produced by Chinese EV truck manufacturer CHTC Group.
At 2.97m long, which is over 8cm shorter than the original Mini, the aim of REDS is to maximise interior space for passengers, while occupying very little road space. The REDS’ turning circle is smaller than that of a Smart Fortwo, although REDS is taller and narrower. The car’s intended use is for inner-city driving in Chinese megacities, with seating for four on the move, and five when stopped.
Never dull: the car designs of Chris Bangle
Bangle insists that the car is not a concept, but instead previews a production model, building of which will begin within a short, but unspecified timeframe. It’s a full-functioning prototype, and at earlier stages of development achieved promising crash test results thanks to an aluminium spaceframe, which surrounds the battery pack.
The car will lead its class in acceleration from standstill to 31mph/50kph – a desirable feature to its urban-living Chinese target market, although the car is also designed to be as functional as possible at a standstill. This accounts for 90% of the time, and is achieved by incorporating a large 17-inch infotainment screen, as well as a rear bench which can be used, Bangle claims, in various uses, from a sofa to a baby-changing station.
The driver’s seat can rotate fully for passenger-facing seating, and there’s also a drop-down table in development.
REDS’ batteries are recharged conventionally, but a solar panel on the car’s roof – the largest in its class – suggests bolstered electric potential through renewable solar energy. No capacity or range has been given, other than the assertion that the latter will be class-leading.
The firms chose LA to reveal the car due to Californians’ nature as opinion leaders in mobility, according to vice president of CHTC Group, Wang Jinan. Despite the production intent, the firm is listening to feedback from LA show-goers, so there is potential to tweak the car ahead of its build date.