DETROIT — Tucked away in the far right corner of Cobo Center is one of the coolest, futuristic vehicles at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). I’m talking about the Rinspeed Oasis concept car. It’s an electric vehicle that can be shared or owned through a ride-hailing app.
The Oasis is described as “a garden plot on wheels for the urban jungle.” It features a garden area behind the windshield that has enough space for growing radishes or even little Bonsai trees. The driver or passenger can access the garden through a little window that also lets you change the temperature or air circulation inside.
“It’s about the future of mobility,” said Rinspeed CEO Frank M. Rinderknecht in an exclusive interview. “Driving that’s not your own car, maybe its an Uber car. It’s about new technologies. It’s about merging the IT industry with the living space industry into mobility. What we have with the Oasis is basically a living room on four wheels.”
This concept vehicle made its world debut at CES in Las Vegas. One week later, it arrived in Detroit to make its auto show debut at the NAIAS.
The Oasis is packed with the latest technology. It comes with a massive, curved 5K widescreen display that comes with voice and gesture control. The interactive display system, made by Harman, lets you do everything from watch movies, alert the driver of upcoming obstacles and then tell you when the traffic light will turn green.
“Imagine if you go from ‘A’ to ‘B’ in the city and somebody might have an envelope, a little parcel or a pizza to go the same journey. Why don’t you take it? It’s less money for the ride for you and the guy who sends it. It’s a car less on the road.”
Other cool features include a steering wheel that can be folded down when the car is in autonomous mode and a built-in keyboard with two cup holders.
The Oasis is powered by two in-wheel electric motors and torque vectoring, all developed by ZF on Lake Constance. Each electric motor can be swapped out in a matter of minutes if the battery becomes depleted.
“We consider this car to be about five years away from today,” Rinderknecht added. “People at CES told us, ‘Oh, I could imagine driving this car tomorrow.’ People thought it was much closer than we thought initially. This is level 5 autonomous meaning that the car can drive without any human inside.”
It’s too bad that the Rinspeed Oasis is a concept car, because I’d like to buy one right now.