Joshua Dowling July 19, 2012
Award-winning eco model inspired by Ikea.
A team of university students in Britain has built a car made mostly of wood and cardboard so it can be shipped in a “flat-pack” – in much the same way Ikea freights furniture.
The experimental car has no airbags, comes with just one seat and uses bicycle brakes – but it does come with sports-car-like vertical-opening doors.
The car, made by undergraduates from Britain’s Aston University, is not likely to appear in showrooms anytime soon.
It won an eco-design award for experimental vehicles at the 2012 Shell Eco-Marathon in Rotterdam.
Powered by a small hydrogen fuel cell, it did not travel the furthest distance on the least amount of energy - that honour went to a French-made, tube-shaped experimental vehicle which eked out 2832km on just one litre of petrol.
Rather, the flat-pack car was lauded for its attempt to reduce the carbon footprint of motor vehicles during shipping.
The timber and cardboard used were “sustainable” materials, while only a small amount of lightweight metal was used in the suspension, brakes, wheels and the car’s underbody frame.
The team’s academic head, Christian McLening, told Wired magazine: “The assembly offers the opportunity for the chassis to be sub-assembled so a flat-pack vehicle could be shipped in a more compact form for easy assembly at its final destination.
“The team [was] keen to explore the wider implications of sustainability and not just the power source. The manufacturing approach plays a significant role in a car’s impact, and wood and cardboard composite structure was ideally suited to a laser-cut, flat-pack assembly.”