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It’s show time in the gamblers’ paradise Las Vegas: For the first time ever, Frank M. Rinderknecht, boss of the Swiss idea smithy Rinspeed, celebrates a world premiere outside his Alpine home with the hybrid sports car “Stos.” The automotive visionary says: “The digital world will provide the major and above all the disruptive innovations in automotive engineering. That is why nowadays all major car manufacturers and suppliers are present at the CES Consumer Electronics Show.”
As always, the Swiss mastermind approaches the mega topic of “self-driving cars” primarily from the perspective of the driver and the occupants, the human component. And as always, he garnishes his concept with a host of inspiring and emotionally appealing highlights. In so doing, the automotive thinker together with consulting firm EY expressly puts one question on the agenda that is bound to occupy us for quite some time: How much human component should, must or may there be in a machine? Everyone involved realizes that answering this question requires merging expectations, tolerances and acceptance. There are countless unsettled issues, for example the morals and ethics of a machine, that need to be resolved. In addition, the means for the technical realization also must be developed. Rinderknecht ventures a prediction: “This process will likely lead to an adaptive, learning and intuitive control software. But it will be a long rocky road.”
The technical highlight in the interior of the “Stos” is no doubt the folding and retracting steering wheel from ZF TRW. As if by magic, it disappears in the dashboard in a few seconds. This creates lots of space in front the driver who can grab and read a book in comfort the old-fashioned way or can work in a relaxed atmosphere. The position of the two curved 21.5-inch Ultra HD widescreen monitors is individually adjustable to provide an even better view of the displayed contents.
As always, the Helvetian think tank, which following an old tradition once again commissioned the Swiss colleagues of 4erC to design the twenty-second concept car and Esoro to handle the technical realization, explores the existing digital possibilities – and demonstrates new ones. The “Stos” is fitted with an on-board DJI drone complete with landing platform in the rear. An armada of 12,000 individually controlled LEDs can transform this platform into an electronic message board or a visual dancefloor. This technical marvel was designed by Swiss specialist Weidplas, which is also behind the rear window that has been converted into a third brake light and the brilliant seat inlays. The drone itself is capable of providing some very useful services. For example, it can quickly pick up a bouquet of flowers for the significant other ordered on the way home. And the little flyer is a lot of fun when it acts like a UFO, shooting a selfie of the ride in the “Stos” on your local favorite route and streaming it live to friends. Heads up: that little thing has an extremely high addiction and envy factor!
The elegantly and futuristically styled “Stos” – on the technical basis of the BMW i8 – is a sustainable but also a fast racer. The deep black and shiny 20-inch Borbet GTX aluminum rims leave no doubt about that. They give the body an imposing visual width and provide perfect handling on the track. To make the athlete as light as possible, Corning manufactures the glass roof and the “drone pad” in the rear from especially strong, lightweight and thin Gorilla glass, the same kind used in smartphones. The aluminum front structure and the carbon fiber passenger cell are joined together with ultra-high-modulus adhesive from Sika.
No question, Rinderknecht not only plays the role of the visionary, but also that of the magician in Las Vegas. And since a great show also goes hand in hand with unusual eye-catching packaging, the Swiss national uses ceramics and metal alloys in the “Stos.” They are applied at temperatures above 20,000 degrees Celsius and at supersonic speed. The result is a unique appearance, a new touch and feel and a novel functionality that are all unprecedented in automotive construction. Apart from delicately designed trim strips, the vehicle sports rims with a titanium protective edge and non-slip titanium pedals. These magic moments come courtesy of the specialists from the German company Putzier Oberflächentechnik. Touch it, feel it – it really is magic!