This is the first Globe Drive contribution from Charles Bombardier, 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. Mr. Bombardier was "raised on machines," and he got his first job on the assembly line when he was 16.
He developed three engineering projects for BRP: the Bombardier Traxter XL, the Ski-Doo Elite, and the Can-Am Spyder. Mr. Bombardier left BRP in 2006 to work on his own ventures, and in March, 2013 he began to create his own concept vehicles and publish them on his website.
His columns will introduce new vehicle concepts and present visuals from designers who illustrate his ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far fetched.
The Arrow is a design I've been thinking about for a long time. It's a small electric vehicle with a narrow body, and a cockpit that opens up like a fighter jet to reveal tandem seats.
Before I enrolled in mechanical engineering at the University of Quebec, I first learned at CEGEP the skills needed to become a technician. Disciplines ranged from milling, hydraulics, and structural analysis to computer assisted design (CAD) and computer-assisted machining (CAM). One of my CAD professors was working on a three-wheel concept and he made us draw and build various parts for his transmission, differential and half-shafts. In those days the Campagna T-Rex was making its debut and I was so inspired by these cool vehicles that I started dismantling my Ski-Doo Mach 1, to build my own three-wheeled bike. (Note: This was way before the Spyder.)
How it works
The Arrow is powered by a 30-kilowatt, liquid-cooled, double-sided synchronous motor located in the rear. The motor drives a limited slip differential that powers each rear wheel. It could become a four-wheel-drive vehicle or three-wheel-drive, but for now, I'm keeping things light and simple. Fenders have been added to the torpedo-shaped body, but we haven't tested the airflow in a fluid dynamic software. The goal is to lower the drag coefficient as much as possible because energy will come from lithium-air batteries and the range target is to exceed 600 kilometres. I like the power-to-weight ratio 'promised' by this type of battery, which also releases oxygen when it's charging.
What it's used for
The Arrow was conceived as a cool alternative for commuting to work, for running errands or for weekend trips to the cottage. I love to ride motorcycles, but I also hate it when it starts to rain on a ride, which is why I opted for a closed cockpit that can also be heated or cooled.
The images of the Arrow prototype were conceived by Sebastian Campos, one of the many designers I work with. He's based in Mexico, and he also designed the Surfout concept, a motorized surfboard. A prototype of the Arrow could be built rapidly – there's a company in California with a full cockpit sub-assembly, I have a few 30-kilowatt motors in Valcourt, Que., and the remainder of the necessary work is achievable by anyone who's interested in financing, building, and testing a prototype.
Is this the car of the future?
There are tons of cars of the future out there and I think the Arrow could be one of them. It looks cool, and it doesn't take up too much space on the road. You could probably park four of them in one parking spot! The Arrow could serve as a second car or even as a recreational vehicle, and it could theoretically be built for less than $20,000 a unit.
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