By Drew Johnson
Wednesday, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 3:33 pm
 
Swiss design house Rinspeed is looking to revolutionize the way people commute with a new concept vehicle developed with electronics firm Harman that debuted at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

Called the Micromax, Rinspeed says the concept vehicle "merges personal and public transportation." In essence, the Micromax is a personal city bus, and as our photos reveal, its cabin is tall enough that passengers can stand in it.

But there are a few key differences between the Micromax and your typical city bus. Measuring just 3.7 meters in length, the Micromax is about the same size as a MINI Cooper. But, despite that small footprint, Rinspeed has designed the Micromax to accommodate three passengers and a full-size stroller or shopping cart.

The Micromax is also smarter than any bus currently in use, thanks to cloud-based technologies and a custom-made app from Harman.

Potential riders simply enter their destination into the Harman app and the cloud does the rest. The system selects the Micromax with the best planned route, sending that information to both the rider and the driver. The cloud-based system can even work out transfers, if necessary.

Thanks to the use of Near Field Communication technology, the rider can simply step on the Micromax and swipe their smartphone for payment. Once on board, the rider has access to the Micromax's mobile work stations, as well as other perks, such as a refrigerator and coffee machine.

The Micromax's driver, meanwhile, is treated to the latest in navigation technology. Using real-time information sourced from the cloud, the driver can avoid detours, traffic jams, or anything else that might delay the journey.

The Micromax uses an all-electric drivetrain, but Rinspeed failed to give any technical details, including the vehicle's total range.

"We have developed an intelligent and eco-friendly mobility concept complete with its own vehicle that combines the benefits of personal transportation with those of taxis, car-sharing services and carpool concepts as well as those offered by public transit," said Frank M. Rinderknecht, head of Rinspeed.

Unlike most of Rinspeed's prior creations, the design firm is seriously considering putting the Micromax into regular production. Rinspeed estimates it could break even on the Micromax at a sales volume of just 5,000 units per year. However, no manufacturer has yet stepped up to take on the project.