Massey University design graduate creates MEVA adaptable vehicle

Massey University design graduate creates MEVA adaptable vehicle

A Massey University Industrial Design graduate has given his take on what could be the future of motoring with a unique design study concept vehicle.

Designed by Matthew Pilbrow, the MEVA (Membrane Experimental Vehicle Adaptable) aims to rethink vehicle packaging so that a small vehicle is not seen as a compromise, whilst creating a city car that is friendly to pedestrians as well as its environment.

The basic concept of MEVA is to apply new construction methods and intelligent technologies to an A-segment vehicle, capable of carrying up to four passengers, a capacity currently not possible in this segment.

“I wanted to redesign and redefine how a vehicle is constructed, taking it beyond the ‘steel cage’ status quo. I also wanted to incorporate new and exciting technologies into a future city urban vehicle for the year 2020 and to create a more intelligent, sustainable and efficient product,” said Pilbrow.

Unlike today’s cars, which are made up of a heavy steel monocoque with rigid steel and/or plastic panels, MEVA’s solution lies in the adaption of an intelligent soft ‘membrane’ that ‘floats’ around an extremely rigid but very light hemp fibre mono-cell. Within this architecture lies a host of innovative design features that aim to greatly improve efficiency, customization and interior room as well as pedestrian safety.

The MEVA’s structure takes inspiration from jellyfish with its outer membrane and transparent wheel-covers, revealing a ‘vein-like’ wheel design which mimics the visible veins on a jellyfish.

The design was heavily dictated by its role within an urban environment and its close proximity to pedestrians. This is why the front of the car is passive and non-intimidating. This gives way to a more dynamic side graphic to highlight the cars performance, while the expansive glazing and wrap-around windscreen gives passengers uninterrupted visibility.

The large soft bumper ‘inserts’ provide a practical function as they can sense an unavoidable collision with a pedestrian and inflate to cushion the pedestrian from the impact. They also act as additional cushioning in case of an impact with another vehicle.

The fact that the MEVA’s outer membrane is soft and flexible allows the wheels to be covered, so that when a wheel turns the membrane structure flexes around it like skin. This ‘organic’ design means the MEVA is less intimidating than other vehicles.

MEVA’s electro-active polymer roof allows it to adjust its shape depending on the vehicle’s speed and number of passengers. At motorway speeds, the roof profile morphs to become more coupe-like, reducing drag. When rear headroom is required, the roof stays in its more space-efficient setting.

Specifications

Bodywork:

– Hempfibre ‘monocell’ monocoque with integrated battery pack cradle

– Aluminium front and rear sub frames bolted onto monocell

– Memory Alloy sub frame extrusions

– Memory Alloy ribbon

– Electro-Active polymer membrane

Drivetrain:

– 4 hub-type water-cooled electric motors on each corner with active torque vectoring

– Zinc Air battery pack

– Airless tire/wheel design

Performance:

Top Speed: 160 km/h

0-100km/h: 7.5 seconds

Battery Range: 300 km

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