h a l f b a k e r y
Not so much a thought experiment as a single neuron misfire.
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The Volkswagen Beetle was the peoples car for an era, but as the age of gasoline fades, we need a new one. At one time Sears used to sell a car and this new car should be a Walmart type product that starts as a BASIC pedal powered trike whose frame is steel tubing with no suspension, minimal gears,
basic brakes and no fairings or fenders, but then sell upgrade kits.
The basic idea is to sell a completely upgradable kit that starts as basic mobility, but can be upgraded to have an enclosed passenger area, lockable compartments, upgraded suspension, upgraded brakes, electric, gas or hybrid propulsion, etc.
The idea is to partially replace the bicycle and the entry level car with something that could be tailored to the user, bought in phases and upgraded as the user sees fit.
Bicycles are still probably the most popular form of wheeled transportation in the world, but are flawed for transportation to and from work if you have to dress nicely and there are puddles or pretty much anything dirty between you and work. By starting with a strong steel tube frame, additional tubes could be added to support suspension pieces, fairings and add extra structural rigidity as power is increased.
So the progressions could go like this:
1. basic trike
2. upgrade suspension
3. upgrade brakes
4. upgrade gearing
5. upgrade fairings/luggage space
6. soft top
7. add lighting
8. upgrade propulsion to add electric assist
9. upgrade propulsion to gas recharge for electric assist
10+ Further upgrade each feature
||I do not see the bike replacing the car in the US. Distances are too great and sharing the road with cars too risky.
||Linux Auto, aka International Harvester.
||A bike should be a bike, less is more [-]
||I doubt one steel tube frame could be optimal for all configurations. Fairings and mechanical-assist propulsion have their own set of frame requirements. A basic frame designed from with these upgrades in mind would be more difficult to power using pedals alone.
||I agree, the basic frame would be slightly over built, but not so much because the fairings would attach to additional tubes like adding a roll cage to a car to add stiffness.
||the Walmart VW would have huge seats,
many cupholders, an automatic
transmission, sit 16 inches off the
ground, look vaguely like a military
vehicle, and be made entirely from ABS
plastic. It would also be criminally
cheap, be manufactured by indonesian
slave labor, and come in excessive and
wasteful packaging. Service for the
VolksMart would be surly and
uneducated. Nothing would be
repairable or replaceable and no part
would be recyclable. All components
would be glued and secured with
security hardware making disassembly
impossible. It would bear numerous
preposterous warning labels and the
surfaces would leach lead and
plasticants for the life of the vehicle.
Ect. ad nauseam.