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A new mobility option.

Car-sharing is getting plenty of green-minded folks excited these days. The rise of ZipCar, carpooling apps, and so forth have been heralded as signs that people are beginning to see the merits of spending less time driving solo and more time sharing, cutting costs and pollution in the process. Well, the folks at the “progressive industrial design studio” Brooks & Bone have taken the concept of urban car-sharing to its logical conclusion: Tiny, boxy vehicles built specifically to be shared a la personal rapid transit…

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Why boxy? Because, as the designers point out, when you’re going 35 mph tops (the upper reaches of speeds reached by most urban drivers), it really doesn’t matter if your car is shaped like a Maserati or a giant Rubik’s Cube. And so, B&B have taken to calling their car-sharing star just that, the BOX.

And thanks to that supremely boxy shape, it will boast much more legroom than other cars its size — and it will fit four passengers. The car will run on electric batteries, and will have a range of 25 miles and will reach speeds of, yes, 35 mph. It will be virtually free of bells and whistles, and will feature an interface linked to smart phone apps. It will have ample room for luggage, too.

box-car-sharing-city TTTttt

The designers hold that its simple design will allow it to be cheaper to produce than any other cars, and will be ideal for urban transit.

Admittedly, it’s a pretty intriguing design, and everyone seems to have something of a soft spot for futuristic pod car thingys — that’s my personal theory for why folks can’t get enough of Personal Rapid Transit, no matter how infeasible it’s often proven to be. But we have here, once again, an instance where it seems that cars are just turning into trains.

The Box may indeed offer a fine stop-gap measure for cities that both have medium population density and a lack of good transit options. But for city planners looking for clean and efficient ways to let large numbers of people get around, it seems like light rail or subway would be far superior. That said, it’s always a pleasure to see talented designers taking on persistent problems with obvious gusto — and I, for one,

Hat tip to Shareable.