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Rinspeed previews its microMAX, an electric living room/fishbowl on wheels

Electric motors and lithium-ion battery packs are not the same size or shape as an internal-combustion drivetrain. That seems like it would be pretty obvious, but so far, the makers of electric cars have mostly designed their vehicles to look as much like the rest of the cars on the road as possible. Some of them even have grilles, for some completely unknown reason. But now Rinspeed, a small Swiss firm, has plans to make a completely different kind of electric car. Called the microMAX, it is designed as an urban vehicle for use as a taxi or small bus.

The vehicle is actually only about the same length as a Mini, but thanks to a layout made possible by the electric drivetrain, it offers up a surprising amount of interior space. The idea is for the microMAX to be used for ride share purposes in city centers. The vehicle’s designer, Frank M. Rinderknecht, explains “Modern ride share centres nowadays are web-based or smartphone-based. They operate in real time: you need to go to work on a regular basis or want to go somewhere right now and in no time at all, you find the driver that’ll give you a ride. microMAX with its unique upright seats is the perfect ‘thing’ for swift short-distance transfers – the car to go with the app,” in a report from Green Car Congress.

The interior can also be fitted with a coffee maker, a refrigerator or any number of different entertainment options. The huge amounts of glass were obviously the vision of someone who has never left their car in a parking lot in Phoenix for an hour in the heat on an August afternoon, but the microMAX would really be better suited to European cities anyway. It would be particularly well-suited for Geneva, and this is indeed where it will make its official debut in March. Whether this specific vehicle makes it to the US, or even sees production at all, it has to be said that this kind of different thinking is generally a positive thing for the EV, and Rinspeed deserves credit for this much at least.