Prototype: Pininfarina's Nido Ultra Compact Car
If you're a interested in conserving gas (and with today's prices, who isn't), you probably know that the most effective way to do it is reduce the size of your car. Smaller cars mean smaller, more efficient engines, and lighter, less energy-hungry chassis. But as more and more SUV's and other large cars populate the roads, driving in a small car can make you feel like some tiny rodent in a predator-prey relationship: In a side impact verses an H2, the little guy is going to lose. That is, unless a certain Italian car company has its way...PininFarina, the mastermind behind concept cars for manufacturers from Ferrari to Honda has formulated a bold new concept to bring real-world impact safety to smaller vehicles.
The Nido concept car isolates it's passenger and driver inside a rigid welded safety cage for roll and crush-resistance. But injuries from the force of impact are still a problem, so the passenger compartment is suspended within the cage by a series of crushable aluminum honeycomb panels. When struck by another car, these panels crumple one after another, bringing the passengers to a smoother stop than a rigid car body would, and avoiding whiplash, organ bruising, and brain injuries like concussions.
While this technology is still in the limited prototype phase, it holds promise for keeping small cars from being completely run off the road by larger competitors. Hopefully we'll see more of this in the future.
:: PininFarina Nido Concept [by DM]