Alongside the 'Teutonic fuel sipper' Mike shared from this year's Detroit Auto Show, University of Michigan design student Cameron Van Dyke presented an alternative view.
One of Van Dyke's cars, the Cyclone, is a luxury liner for up to four passengers harking back to the Model T, which seems like an appropriate reference as we are at the dawn of alternative transportation. Perfect for a leisurely Sunday pursuit, the boxy vehicle probably moves at about the speed of a fast stroll. Not so practical as a marketable design, but a great in-your-face practical joke on the auto industry's cheap-gasoline-fueled frenzy, in which 'retro' means urban commuting in a pickup truck.
Van Dyke's Zeppelin model looks more like what most enthusiasts want in a cross between a bike and a car. It can accommodate up to two passengers and cargo, keeps all of that out of the weather, and can maintain 25 mph with a 750-watt electric assist motor, critical for when the route veers from the bicycle path onto the roads.
It reminds us of the super efficient human-powered Twike, which has earned the right to join other members of the Teutonic engineering club on the famous German autobahn by maintaining highway speeds of 55 mph -- at a cost that rivals an electric car though.
If Van Dyke can commercialize his concept car at a price point somewhere above that of a fancy tandem and well below what a plug-in car costs, we think there is a significant hungry market in the niche he targets.