The Quarter Car is a fully autonomous vehicle that features seats in individual compartments, like business class suites on a plane. Sam Ballard reports

A new concept vehicle that allows passengers to ride together or in separate, business class-style compartments has been envisioned by Seymourpowell, a London-based industrial design and innovation company.

The Quarter Car, a fully autonomous vehicle, is powered by electric batteries and is designed to operate between “urban and suburban environments”. It would be particularly for “last-mile” journeys from the airport to a hotel, for example, and would be a more sustainable option to conventional taxis that can seat multiple passengers but are often only occupied by one.

Seymourpowell’s concept is built around increasing the internal volume of the vehicle rather than making it more aerodynamic – making the Quarter Car look more like a bus than a car, although it’s still only roughly the length of a Toyota Prius. Passengers will be able to book either one quarter of the vehicle or, if they’re travelling as a group, two spaces, three spaces or the whole Quarter Car. The interiors are stylish and comfortable, with amazing visibility through a transparent roof and sides.Quarter Car, SeymourpowellJonny Culkin, designer at Seymourpowell, says: “A key issue within the digital ride-hailing business model is the inefficiency generated from the number of empty seats during journeys. We have identified this as the ‘Uber Pool’ problem, where despite cost based incentives, passengers are unwilling to share their journey with other users. “It is a significant challenge for vehicle manufacturers and ride hailing services to overcome in order to unlock revenue and efficiency growth potential.”

Culkin adds: “With the onset of autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility, it’s time to start defining the first generation of vehicles designed specifically for mobility services. Vehicles like Quarter Car will lead the way in defining a trend of ‘Private Shared’ vehicles; adaptable spaces that will improve business metrics and passenger experience in one hit.”

With people far more “germaphobic” as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, the idea of isolated compartments in a shared vehicle will certainly appeal.

Quarter Car, SeymourpowellCulkin says: “As well as the in-car experience, we envisioned how Quarter Car could be adopted across a variety of sectors for different purposes.

“Whether it’s basic A to B ride-hailing transportation; a service which airlines employ as a business class benefit for pick up and drop offs; or even a commercial vehicle utilised by hoteliers to expand its concierge service through bespoke city tours and providing on-the-go, co-working spaces for the modern day flexible worker.”

Richard Seale, lead automotive designer at Seymourpowell, says: “During the initial design process of Quarter Car, we left no stone unturned when questioning the conventional wisdom of traditional vehicle design. As part of this process, we began to wonder whether a vehicle could in-fact positively contribute to the air quality of the environment it operates in, rather than the contrary.

“We believe that if we are going to flood city’s with new mobility solutions, in various ways each vehicle should do a little good for every mile travelled, collectively contributing to better living standards for all.”

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