When was the last time you got excited about a new bus? Maybe third grade? Well, the Dutch have somehow managed to make you feel like a kid again. Take a look at the world’s first public transportation option that makes you want to leave your car at home.
The aptly titled Superbus (what else could you call it) is a carbon fiber masterpiece made for 24 riders, like a stretch Lamborghini. It’s already taken riders like Richard Branson on a ride from the airport and made the rounds at car shows in Europe and the Middle East. Current projections are for the Superbus to go live in the Netherlands for 2015.
The radical redesign of this bus, including gull wings and streamlined construction low to the ground, are not just for show, though it would be OK if they were. It had to shed as much weight as possible to run on 400 kW electric motors, powered by a lithium polymer battery that is partially regenerated by braking. The entire bodywork and chassis are built from carbon fiber reinforced plastic that is stronger than steel at half the weight.
So far, only exotic cars like the McLaren MP4 have been able to build an entire vehicle out of carbon fiber. On the consumer side, a few automakers have been experimenting with carbon fiber parts like the hood of the German Ford Focus and the roof on the BMW M3. One of the side advantages, as CNET pointed out, is that if the weight savings wasn’t enough, is that a carbon fiber body means no more dings or hammering out damage. The panels simply pop back out like plastic instead of denting like steel.
Though carbon fiber has not yet reached production levels that support mass production, the Superbus benefits being singular, so far. This one high speed transport, reaching speeds of 160 mph, is designed to operate without a fixed route. Every outing will be a customized route based on the preferred pickup and drop off of the passengers who call. The comfort level is designed to match a luxury sedan, with ergonomic seats, high speed internet and multimedia for each passenger.
It’s a strange contradiction, but this may be the one vehicle that makes you give up driving for good.