Rinspeed Promises Self-Driving EV Concept Vehicle For Geneva Motor Show

Zurich-based Rinspeed started off life as a garage offering its European customers imported U.S. sunroofs and driver’s aids for disabled drivers, but for as long as we can remember, it’s been the company responsible for some really amazing concept cars. And when we say concept cars, we really do mean concept cars, ranging from an underwater electric sportscar inspired by James Bond to a car which actually senses the health and mood of the driver.

Fancy a self-driving electric concept car? Rinspeed does.

Fancy a self-driving electric concept car? Rinspeed does.

Every year, at the Geneva Motor Show, Rinspeed shows its latest and greatest concept. Sometimes, it shows a concept car which is nothing more than an unbelievable flight of fancy. Sometimes, its uses its concept cars to display an idea which might — if it were marketed correctly — catch on. Achievable or fanciful however, Rinspeed’s concepts have tended towards all-electric drivetrains for many years.

So for the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, it’s no surprise that Rinspeed’s concept car will yet again be powered by electricity. But unlike previous years, the Swiss company’s latest concept — the Rinspeed XchangE –– is fully autonomous too.

Naturally, being a concept instead of a production car, there’s no pressure on Rinspeed to build a fully functioning version of the XchangE: after all, that’s not the point of concept cars. What it is an opportunity to do however, is to explore the idea of what a self-driving car could actually be like to ride in.

Turn around, talk to your passenger, and even have a spot of tea. (But don't ask us where the kettle is)

Turn around, talk to your passenger, and even have a spot of tea. (But don’t ask us where the kettle is)

This is where Rinspeed shines. Essentially letting someone else do the task of making the car drive itself, Rinspeed’s designers have envisaged a car where the steering wheel slides away from the driver into a central position when in autopilot mode, allowing the front driver and passenger seats to swivel around to face the rear-seat passengers.

And if you’re worried about safety, don’t be: the concept car’s seat belts are integrated into the seats themselves, allowing the front seats to fully swivel without requiring those sitting in them to remove their seat belts.

Being a concept car that’s not even due to be unveiled for several months, Rinspeed has left the exact details of its self-driving concept car a secret, giving only two computer renderings to wet our appetite. Range, speed, and other important specifications remain a closely-guarded secret — and we’ll have to wait until the 2014 Geneva Motor Show to find out more.

Sadly, no Rinspeed vehicles ever makes it into mass production, but it has got us thinking: if you could design a self-driving electric car, what would it be like?

Leave your thoughts, drawings and otherwise — however wacky — in the Comments below.

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