The car’s exterior shell is composed of new transparent solar panels that collect ambient light, generating electricity.
Utilizing a new energy model, the vehicle uses the electricity to stimulate a central water tank, splitting the water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The hydrogen gets stored in special reserve tanks, while the oxygen gets expelled into the air as exhaust. With this model, the vehicle functions like a plant, only needing the sun and water to create its own fuel.
Special design features also include layered body panels, unique headlight/side mirror units, and offset seating to allow elbow room for all occupants.
The entire project was done within a 15-week semester, in ccoperation with Hyundai design manager Chris Zarlinga, and design director Joel Piaskowski, who supervised the overall concept and execution. The model was built entirely in AliasStudio.
A quarter-scale model was milled from the Alias data on a CNC, with various rapid prototyped and vacuum formed acrylic panels.
Nicolas Stone comments "The project brief was simple… design an iconic A/B segment vehicle to help establish Hyundai’s character and family feel, being sensitive to growing urbanization and ecological awareness in the year 2020."
"Given the world’s current energy crisis, I set out to develop a new type of vehicle, borrowing new developing technologies from other industries to provide an alternative vehicle solution.
"The source of this breakthrough technology was none other than Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There, two separate inventions/discoveries occurred as recently as last summer, one of which is said to be “the most important discovery of the century.”
Constructing a simply model in one of the MIT labs, Nocera electrically stimulated water, and using certain catalysts, is able to extract hydrogen to use as fuel.
Although the initial model was powered from a standard wall outlet, the process is designed to run off of solar generated electricity. It is also important to note that this process, up-scaled for an automobile, would only produce oxygen as a bi-product.
This means a vehicle powered by this method would not only have zero harmful emissions, but it would actually replenish the air (or the interior cabin) with pure, clean oxygen.
The second technology out of MIT was created by three seniors who developed a new type of solar concentrator that not only enhances the efficiency of current solar panels, but could actually function as a stand-alone piece, bringing a whole new aesthetic.
These new solar panels are actually transparent pieces of glass/plastic with a special organic dye which allows these panels to take in ambient light, and re-direct the light to the edges of the panel where smaller solar receptors would generate the light into electricity.
After graduation, these students formed their own company called Covalent Solar to further develop this technology for industry.
According to their research, these new panels would not only be far cheaper to produce, but they also can be up to 40% more efficient than today’s standard solar technology.
"With the 20 year lead Hyundai’s design team gave us, there is no reason to believe this material can’t be formed for vehicle components." explains Nicolas.
"While in the beginning ideation stages, I experimented with covering various areas of the car (roof, hood, mirrors, etc..) until I was encouraged to take it a step further and “run with it.”
"So I began to sketch around the idea of “What if I created the whole car out of this material?”
So the majority of the exterior shell is composed of these transparent solar panels, creating a “glass sleeve.”
To maintain the passengers’ privacy, the glass panels were designed to look as if they intersect with the car’s body panels.
This also creates a sense of depth within the surfaces (much like older generation iPods).
To further accentuate the "light redirection" concept, the roof panel is designed to "act like a canopy, suspended over the roof pillars and mimicking a shade or visor. "
The rear lights are packed into the edge of the “glass sleeve” composing the exterior, so that the brake lightslook like they are being emitted from the glass edges.
While the solar panels use highly saturated dyes, this color cannot be used on the entire exterior because it would disorient the driver.
"To solve this, I broke up the material into three different shades (clear/smoked/colored) and strategically placed them around the vehicle in order to maximize driver visibility. "
"Technology aside, it was important that I attempt to break the stigma against small cars in North America. To do this, I used long lines that stretch across the form, visually elongating the vehicle and providing an athletic stance.
"In order to maximize the use of such a small package, I used a mono-volume approach to open-up the interior space as much as possible. Another important feature to small vehicles is character… so besides a traditional “happy face”, I designed the headlights and side mirrors to be integrated into one unit that extends out from the body like eyes.
Not only does this provide a new aesthetic, but it also maximizes the interior space, allowing every occupant elbow-room.
By shifting the driver’s seat forward into the dashboard area, it gives the driver maximum visibility, whereas in a traditional layout the passenger often obstructs the view looking right.
The seats surround a dynamic center console which conceals the vehicles central water tank. Taking advantage of this nearby water, the cup holders can actually fill up with hot/cold water for instant coffees and teas.
The interior was designed with a minimal approach, getting rid of any excess mass that would take away from the “open and airy” special feel.
"During the revisions process, I decided to scrap a traditional dashboard layout for a new, simple, wrap-around display unit for the driver. This left nothing but empty space in front of the passenger, allowing for extra easy-access storage or foot-room. "
About the Designer
22 years old Nicolas Stone grew up in Miami, Florida and graduated from the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in December of 2008 with a BFA in Automotive Design.
During his 4.5 year career at CCS he has won several competitions, ultimately earning him 3 internships, including the American Iron and Steel Internship and a 5-month work-placement with Fiat in Turin, Italy.
He had the opportunity to represent my two latest projects at the 2009 North American International Auto Show: the 2020 Hyundai City Car the Honda “Target” IndyCar.
He has re-located to the Detroit area in order to get a job in the automotive industry. He is currently seeking full-time employment and/or freelance opportunities.
(Image Courtesy: Nicolas Stone)