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

The Jacknife is a futuristic-looking car that can alter shape. When parked, it can take less than a third of a parking spot. When driven at high speed on the Autobahn, it can open up and stretch its wheels out for optimal stability.

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Jacknife Charles Bombardier Charles Bombardier

Jacknife Charles Bombardier Charles Bombardier

The background

I got the Jacknife idea when I was in Toronto recently working with a designer on a front wheel drive trike concept. This specific idea popped into my head, so I decided to explore the whole idea of a car that can fold itself up like a Jacknife to optimize space. I saw something similar from MIT a few years back.

How it works

The Jacknife has a pivot point in its frame, which makes it possible to fold the car so that its wheelbase gets shorter by around 50 per cent. This would enable the Jacknife to fit in tight city parking spots. It also means you would technically be able to drive your car while (almost) standing up and you can get a better and higher view of the surroundings whilst riding at low speeds in a dense urban setting.

This might sound weird, but imagine you're driving at 20 km/h in an urban setting and your car is driving itself. It could be fun to ride it while simply resting on an inclined plane, reading a book or looking at the scenery (with your safety belt on, of course). If you prefer, the car can decrease its folding angle and your adjustable seat will adapt to your ergonomic position.

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Speaking of which, the seat of the Jacknife will be made of 20 adjustable cushioned sections with memory foam and ventilation tubes to heat or cool your seat. These adaptive sections will make it possible for the seat to take the shape of a normal seating position or a flat one if you want to take a nap like in the NightCar concept.

When driving on the highway or at higher speeds, the car will gradually rotate its frame to take a conventional flat position. The car will be powered by a 200-horsepower Hydrogen Fuel Cell connected to a liquid-cooled electric motor. This power pack will be located in between the rear wheels and the cabin.

The cabin will have enough room to accommodate two adults and their luggage. The vehicle will have the controls to be manually driven, and it will also be able to drive itself when needed.

The designer

I would like to thank Adolfo Esquivel for the great renderings of the Firesound. He earned an Industrial Design degree from Colombia and completed a postgraduate study on Events Design at the UQAM of Montreal. He currently works as a freelance industrial designer and is based in Montreal. Esquivel also created the design of the Exocycle urban bike and the Otöcon border patrol drone.

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