A new four-wheeled electric "spider car" with arms which move independently allowing it to tackle the toughest off-road terrain, is set to hit the market. The vehicle, produced by a company based in the south of France, is called the Swincar and will go into production at the end of October.
The business and finance partner at Mecanroc, the company behind the design, Thierry Jammes explained where the idea had come from. "The idea was born out of looking at people going down mountains driving vehicles which were more or less suitable, and the first idea was to make a downhill vehicle, a non-motorized vehicle with some technical capabilities which allow it to lean in turning and insure its stability to avoid it turning over," he said.
Each wheel has its own electric motor and independent suspension at the end of each arm meaning they can tilt independently with the driver's seat swinging in between, allowing the driver to stay upright.
The company says the car can drive on slopes with an inclination of up to 70%. The 1.3 metre long by 1.3 metre wide vehicle is made of aluminium bars, weighs 150kg and can reach a maximum speed of 30-40 km/h. Quad bikes can achieve a similar performance on difficult roads at a faster speed than the Swincar but Jammes that his vehicle still had something special.
"We have a vehicle that is entirely electric, whilst the vast majority of quad bikes have combustion engines -- so the "Swincar" is non-noisy and non-polluting -- and has the ability to cross extreme terrain which means that you can do things with the Swincar that you can't do with other vehicles with normal kinematics," he said.
The car can be assembled easily and can be adapted to the size of the driver. It was originally designed for leisure pursuits and the vast majority of orders have come from North America, where all-road mechanical recreational vehicles are particularly popular. But Mecanroc has plans for the spider car in other areas, including civil security, defence, agriculture and farming.
"It has a range which is particularly interesting for disabled people, not so much a range as a type of the basic vehicle. This type allows people with reduced mobility to have access to it because the arms on both sides which the wheels are attached to can open up to allow access from a wheelchair," Jammes said.