Looks of a aerotank, heart of a hybrid: the Hinterland 1 concept car

The idea behind the Hinterland 1 concept car is efficiency. This is by no means new in the realm of automotive design, but rarely has a low coefficient of drag looked so, well, aggressive. Put a turret on top of this thing and it could be used to scare children to bed every night. My opinions aside, the idea behind the Hinterland 1 is really a pleasant thing, and the car's Canadian designers at The Creative Unit and Higgins-Aubé have designed what could be an iconic new eco-friendly ride.

If everything were to work out as predicted (thus far, the Hinterland 1 is nothing but sketches and renderings), the all-electric car would move down the street with a Prius-beating drag coefficient of less than 0.25. As the designers say, "At 120 km/hr, drag accounts for 75% of the fuel consumption, with rolling resistance accounting for the remaining 25% (source: VW-Golf). The importance of an aerodynamic design is crucial for this environmentally friendly vehicle." It's no surprise that making a vehicle slippery is key to reducing fuel use.

The Creative Unit envisions two models - one with two seats called the "Mini" and a "Van" that holds six - with a annual capacity of 20,000 vehicles a year. The distinctive look is good for more than fuel savings, writes Martin Aubé, the CEO and Industrial Designer at The Creative Unit: "This original form is also an attempt to find a characteristic image for a Canadian economy electric car that could become a recognizable national icon, rather like our distinctive and characteristic emblems." Take off, eh.

More - much more - after the break. H/t to Rory.

[Source: Ecofriend, Coroflot]


Hinterland 1 Electric Car

Given that more and more attention is given to greener vehicles and that Canada, in particular, seems to be looking for an alternative to the everyday mode of transportation, I believe the time has come to present to you a project developed by our team of industrial designers on which we have been working since 2004.

Having been an industrial designer specializing in transportation with a background in aeronautics for 20 years (16 years as a designer for Bombardier Recreational Products and aeronautics), I designed and created, with the help of my colleagues, the Hinterland 1 (borrowed from the German, meaning a place untouched by man, far from urban areas) and applied for intellectual property protection (industrial design) in Canada (119595), in the United States (US D560,554S), and in Europe. Certificates were issued in 2008 for Canada and the United States.

The entire project aimed to give a very distinctive and innovative form to a Canadian design for a long-range electric vehicle. This form is meant to stand out from current industry standards and could be adapted for individual transportation and carpooling (taxi); a hybrid form of transportation combining aspects of individual transportation and mass transit.

The basis for this thought process consists in adapting a cylindrical form, as used in aeronautics for plane fuselages, to a four-wheel passenger car body. Because this manufacturing process has been mastered in our region (by Bombardier) it could become a visual statement for "green-transportation". A "paradigm shift" for the car industry.

This original form is also an attempt to find a characteristic image for a Canadian economy electric car that could become a recognizable national icon, rather like our distinctive and characteristic emblems (Olympic Stadium, Montréal Metro). The case of London's and New York's taxis are good examples of this.

By combining sources of artistic, technical and scientific expertise (recreational vehicles, electric motors and batteries, aeronautics, aluminium, plastics processing, video games, etc.), we could design, produce and sell a technically and distinctly innovative passenger vehicle, elegant in its simplicity, non-polluting, recyclable, safe and adapted to the North American climate, while providing jobs for thousands of specialists and qualified workers.

Martin Aubé, CEO, Industrial Designer, The Creative Unit, B.I.D., AMETVS, ADIQ.
SSHGD instructor in transportation equipment design, UQÀM.

The Creative Unit Inc.


Hinterland Aluminium Automotive Vehicle

Technical Specifications

Michel Paradis, P.Eng.
Martin Aubé, B.I.D.



Henry Ford invented the people's car, the Ford Model T, mainly by revolutionizing mass production.

The Hinterland project is a vehicle design, development and production project, national in scope and using innovative technology to market an affordable yet environmentally friendly car that meets the needs of the people.


The design fostered does not rest on obsolescence; it is not subject to replacement for aesthetic reasons but is rather based on clean, innovative lines that will never go out of style. In addition, the design allows for exceptional aerodynamics combining the convenience of a car with an aeronautical fuselage. The aerodynamic drag coefficient aimed for is < 0.25. As a reference, the aerodynamic drag coefficient for the Honda Insight is 0.25, and for the Toyota Prius, 0.26. At 120 km/hr, drag accounts for 75% of the fuel consumption, with rolling resistance accounting for the remaining 25% (source: VW-Golf). The importance of an aerodynamic design is crucial for this environmentally friendly vehicle.

Two models built on the same platform would be produced: the "Mini," a two-seater model, and the "Van," seating six. At full capacity, we foresee the construction of 20,000 vehicles per year.


The design selected involves a monocoque body using a hydroforming process, because this low-volume technique makes it possible to create complex shapes while significantly reducing tooling and assembly costs. This Japanese technology comes from Amino. The 2006 Pontiac Solstice from General Motors, an economic two-seater roadster selling for $26,000-$31,000, used this technique to produce dramatic shapes for which conventional processes would not have been economically viable. Accordingly, the monocoque body/chassis would be entirely formed using this method, which uses a negative mould at the bottom of a pool of water on which equal pressure is applied, making it possible to bring a sheet of metal to perfectly match the shape of the mould. The results, compared to regular stamping processes, produce a part of uniform thickness and more precise dimensions. However, it takes longer to produce parts, which is why this technique is considered only for annual volumes of less than 25,000 units.

The lightness of the materials is crucial to allow for the use of efficient propulsion. The recommended material for monocoque bodies is HSLA steel for its forming and high physical resistance characteristics, but aluminium could be used too with aeronautics skin-stringer panels technique. Other major parts, such as the hood, trunk lid and doors, would be stamped out of aluminium sheets. The aluminium extrusion process will also be used to reduce tooling costs on all other parts well-suited to this technique.

The interior finish will be basic but still offer front and side air bags for enhanced safety.


The propulsion anticipated is electric. The goal is to equip the Hinterland with a propulsion system that is clean, silent and economical.

Electricity: We are working on the assumption that the vehicle will be used mainly for city driving. Knowing that rolling and acceleration resistance accounts for 87% of the fuel consumption and that aerodynamics account for the remaining 13%, we selected a 100% electric propulsion system, because the advantage of an electric motor is that it is powerful at very low speeds, while a fuel engine performs best when it is running at high speed. Electrical propulsion thus meets our goals of being clean, silent and economical to run, in addition to being less bulky.

Electric motor:

We are thus planning on using an AC motor with an integrated harmonic drive and electronic controller with a combined efficiency > 90%, such as those developed by Hydro-Québec's TM4 division. Other Canadian suppliers, like Azure Dynamics Inc., offer such propulsion. The continuous power required is 14 kW, with 90 Nm of torque, providing for a slope performance > 20% and a top speed of > 110 Km/hr. The vehicle's acceleration would be 0 60 Km/hr in 7 seconds. However, the motors would be fixed to the chassis near the wheels rather than to the wheel itself.

Battery pack:

State-of-the-art batteries such as Saft, Panasonic or Kokam Li-ion batteries and/or Zebra batteries with a nickel & salt electrode and ceramic electrolyte would be used to provide a minimum range > 100 kilometres, or approximately two hours of driving. Their selection was motivated by their low weight and specific energy. Pound for pound, they offer roughly three times the power of conventional lead acid batteries; however, the current wholesale cost is ~ four times greater. A maximum power of 37,000 kilowatts is required given a vehicle weight of 2,500 pounds.


GVW = 2,500 pounds, including battery
Motor = AC 14 kW continuous, 43 kW maximum
Battery = Li-ion or Zebra, specific energy = 37,200 Wh
Battery weight = 500 pounds or more
Total reduction = 12:1
Wheels = 28" diameter
Slope performance = 20%
Top speed = 110 km/hr
Acceleration = 0-60 km/hr in 7 seconds
Range = 100 kilometres or 2 hours (2005 spec)

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