Would you drive this tiny, fabric-bodied electric car?

A Japanese company named Rimono has introduced an experimental, battery-electric two-seater developed specifically to navigate the world’s most crowded mega-cities.

Called simply Rimono, the 86-inch-long concept blurs the line between a car and a scooter. When viewed from a distance, it stands out thanks to a friendly design characterized by a grille-less front end, round headlights, and a two-tone blue and beige paint job. However, the most striking aspect of the Rimono is that its body is made entirely out of a waterproof material called polyester cotton. That’s the same type of fabric generally used to manufacture tarps.

The minimalist treatment continues inside, where the Rimono offers space for either two adults or one adult and two kids. The steering is commanded through a scooter-like handlebar, and the instrument cluster is made up of a pair of gauges that look like they came out of a kiddy car. An iPad mounted directly behind the handlebar replaces the traditional infotainment system that’s usually found in bigger cars.

Power for the Rimono is provided by a 6.8-horsepower electric motor that draws electricity from a four-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, according to Motor1. The two-seater has a top speed of 28 mph, and it can drive for up to 31 miles on a single charge. That’s not much on paper, but it’s enough to cover a day’s worth of errands in big cities. To be on the safe side, Rimono is developing a battery pack that can be easily swapped out when it’s depleted.

Read more: Toyota wants your family to keep the wood-bodied Setsuna for a century

Rimono explains that its fabric-bodied city car is merely a concept built to gauge the public’s reaction, at least for the time being. The company will continue to fine-tune its first creation, and it expects that production will kick off in the summer of 2017. Pricing information hasn’t been announced yet, but the Rimono is unlikely to make the trip across the Pacific.

Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Cars

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.
Cars

Bloodhound’s plan to build a 1,000-mph car has run out of gas

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has officially shut down. The upside is you can now buy a 135,000-horsepower car powered by a jet engine and a cluster of rockets for $319,000.
Mobile

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.