It has become an annual tradition for Swiss automaker Rinspeed to release details of its latest inventive concept just ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. Not your customary custom shop, Rinspeed considers themselves an "automotive think tank and mobility lab." Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that this year's concept pairs two emerging automotive industry trends: electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology. From the outside, the Rinspeed XchangeE looks much like the all-electric Tesla Model S upon which it is based, save for a modified front fascia, clear plexiglass roof and bright green paint job. Inside, however, is where things get interesting.
"Passengers will be able to assume virtually any seating or resting position when traveling in a fully autonomous vehicle in the future, which will require a completely new operating and display concept," says the automaker in a statement. The plush "business-class" interior of the XchangE is reconfigurable, offering up to twenty possible seating positions to passengers. Additional flexibility is provided by a "bionic" steering column, featuring a TRW wheel that can slide to the center of the vehicle when not in use by the driver.
With the XchangE, Rinspeed has rethought safety and security for the autonomous age as well. An RFID access control system ensures that only approved drivers will be able to command the vehicle. The steering wheel's hands-on recognition system will let the car know when the driver has returned to the helm. All data transfer between car and cloud is handled by a secure LTE network connection. In-car infotainment runs on HTML 5, which Rinspeed claims will provide "comprehensive protection against hacker attacks."
The only question that remains is what to do on those long road trips, now that you're no longer hunched over a steering wheel the entire time. Forget flip-down or seat-back DVD players. The Rinspeed XchangE features a gesture-controlled 32-inch 4K television.
"You can read, listen to music, surf the web, play games and watch movies in brilliant picture and sound quality," says the automaker. "Or you can hold a four-party meeting at 120 km/h [75 mph] and work on your files while brewing a fresh cup of Italian Amici espresso."