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The Stage Coach concept vehicle, conceived by Charles Bombardier.

Brian Ross Miller

Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas.

The concept

The Stage Coach blends modern technology with a traditional means of transportation. The 21st century vehicle depicts two eras: pulled by horses, just like the old times, but with high-tech features such as an electronic stability system and panoramic skylight. The Stage Coach concept could eventually move another step ahead by introducing a variant that would be controlled by computer.

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The background

A few months ago I was watching a TV show – The Walking Dead or Games of Thrones – and I thought, "what would happen if there was a worldwide fuel shortage?" Given current economic conditions, there might come a time when it actually happens. No matter what fuel and gasoline shortage we face, we would still have an alternative: real horsepower.

The modern Stage Coach would have composite body parts, alloy frame, a multi-purpose roof rack, panoramic windows, digital disk brakes, and comfort harness for the horses with sensory feedback and lights attached to them.

How it works

How would the new Stagecoach electric system work? If economic conditions collapse, horses will probably become more widely available but fuel will be scarce. So I added two high-output 250-amp alternators connected to each of the transaxles – similar to bicycle dynamos but much more powerful. Their power could be lower depending on the electric features of the Stagecoach. (Sound system? Fans? Air conditioning?)

Up to four deep-cycle, military-grade batteries would be used to store energy and provide electricity when the Stagecoach remains idle. In order to carry six passengers on various types of roads, the Stage Coach would be equipped with a good suspension and big metal-alloy spoke wheels. Not only will the rims improve the overall look, they will also improve performance and durability.

Other essential components include run-flat rubber tires, independent suspension and disk brakes on all four wheels, four-wheel electric power steering, a door that opens upwards and has drop-down stairs, tinted power windows, a stability-control system that prevents rollovers, a quick disconnect system from the horses in case of emergency, a body made of light insulated plastic panels, an optional propane heater for colder climates, an optional A/C system powered by the transaxle (radiator pump and fan), a spacious rear trunk, a roof rack for additional luggage, and optional solar panels to recharge batteries.

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What it's used for

A fully enclosed cockpit would probably complicate things when handling the horses, so it should probably be an optional feature or a convertible canopy. The Stage Coach should be engineered to last more than 25 years, and it should cost less than $25,000 (of course, that all depends on production volume, what it includes, and where it's manufactured).

It would need to be sturdy, easily serviceable with off-the-shelf parts, which means alternators, radiators, batteries, window motors, and suspension would come from existing vehicles. In other words, no development.

The Stage Coach could be used for several purposes, such as visiting the countryside with your family. Used on ranches, large properties, or as a tourist attraction, say on cruise ship expeditions. In another scenario, it could become a means of transportation where no gasoline is available or wanted.

The designer

Brian Ross Miller created the images of the Stage Coach. He's a freelance product designer in Denver, who also created the renderings of the Vortex, the TrailTrike, and the Fireliner.

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Charles Bombardier is a member of the family that owns Quebec-based Bombardier Inc. and Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), which are in the business of designing and manufacturing vehicles.

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