INDUSTRIAL DESIGN | APTERA 2e :: MY CAR OF THE FUTURE?

1964 gm concept car color paleofuture

1966 shopping car2 paleo-future

The Runabout: the car of my future. I’m still waiting.

The 1966 book Automobiles of the Future features these images of General Motor’s Runabout concept car. Besides having three wheels it also features a built-in shopping cart that slides out of the trunk:

Views of the GM three-wheeled Runabout. This car of tomorrow is fitted with two shopping carts that make up the car’s trunk area. The experimental design has been operated with all-electronic controls in proving ground tests.

 1964 World Fair Futurama Future General Motors GM New York Technology USA Space

The experimental small commuter car the Runabout was unveiled at GM’s Futurama at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, back when “the future” still meant something and GM was a viable company. A three-wheeled hatchback, the Runabout carried two passengers and had ample storage room, much like the Aptera.

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In a previous post, I mentioned how I was still waiting for the cars of the future to arrive.

It’s 2010 and the industrial design of automobiles is, for the most part, pretty pathetic. I don’t know if it’s a lack of imagination from industrial designers or if the conservative nature of consumers is to blame (look at the homes we live in). But really, cars have not changed very much in the past couple of decades. Most are ugly, gas-guzzling relics of a pre-peak oil world.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Aptera 2e may be put into production soon.

It’s an interesting design, for sure. I like the way that it echoes my car of the future’s three-wheeled design.

It may not have a shopping buggy for a boot, but this company seems to get the idea of “the future.” Let’s hope it’s not the next Bricklin:

File:Bricklin SV-1 AMI.jpg

And, let’s not forget Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Car, the forerunner of the future:

The Dymaxion Car: Bucky and his car pose with his 26′ Fly’s Eye dome during his 85th birthday party at the Windstar Foundation in Snowmass, Co. in 1981.

The Dymaxion car was designed by Buckminster Fuller in the early 1930s. The car featured highly innovative, and ultimately influential, features compared with the common car of the day including: a three wheel design with rear wheel steering and front wheel drive, a longer body (20 feet), and a highly aerodynamic design. Success of the design was realized in its performance efficiencies: the car could transport up to 11 passengers, reach speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, and ran 30 miles per gallon.

- Buckminster Fuller Institute

Aptera Homepage

The name Aptera is Greek for “wingless.”

Aptera Homepage

BUCKMINSTER FULLER: “SO EVERYBODY CAN ENJOY THE WHOLE EARTH”

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