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Published on June 2nd, 2008 | by Nick Chambers

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Inflatable Electric Cars: Surround Your Body in Bliss


XP Vehicles

[social_buttons] Here’s an interesting idea: instead of putting the airbag in the car, put the car in the airbag.

Sure it sounds silly, but XP vehicles, a start-up in California, is doing just that with their upcoming electric car, the Whisper™. Apparently, XP has taken the same sort of airbag technology developed to safely land recent NASA missions on Mars and used it to create an inflatable polymer car frame in which they pack all the essentials for it to actually be considered an automobile.

Not only does XP vehicles state that the Whisper™ will have a range of 2,500 miles using their “hot-swap XPack Multi-Core™ battery/fuel cell powerplant,” they are aiming for a price point of under $5,000. The cars will be sold direct online, initially only offered in Asian markets, and you will be able to configure them with a variety of different colors, decals, stereo systems, iPod mounts, and alarms – none of which will cover up for the fact that you’re driving a balloon.

The car can be shipped to customers in two cardboard boxes and “can be assembled by two people of average education level” in “less than two hours.” What they don’t tell you is that people with Ph.D.’s will be completely unable to figure the damn things out.

As far as safety goes, without an actual product it will be hard to verify the claims, but XP states that the car “will float in an emergency such as a flood or tsunami” and that you could “drive it off a cliff without serious injury.”

Imagine the possibilities for all sorts of discerning demographic groups:

  • Enterprising young bank robbers: Rob the bank, drive away in a Whisper™, then deflate it and pack it up before the authorities can stop laughing.
  • Tire slashing hoodlums: Now you’re not restricted to only slashing tires.
  • Clowns for hire: Drive to your gig in a Whisper™ and turn it into a balloon animal in front of a crowd of adoring 4 year olds.

But really, if the car can go 2,500 miles without having to charge it up and it costs less than $5,000, who cares what it looks like or what havoc it might wreak on your social life? It gets you from point A to point B on one charge, even if those points are Portland, OR, and Mackinac Island. We’ll see if the Whisper™ ever makes it to reality, but if it does I might actually consider buying one.

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Image credits: XP Vehicles




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  • Chris

    I like this idea, even if it smells like vapor ware. But why make the design look like a Ferrari? That is silly.

    But wrap hard plastic around the air tubes, and use it to make the body of an electric car, that would be great.

    Or even better, make the new Air car out of Air :D

  • Chris

    I like this idea, even if it smells like vapor ware. But why make the design look like a Ferrari? That is silly.

    But wrap hard plastic around the air tubes, and use it to make the body of an electric car, that would be great.

    Or even better, make the new Air car out of Air :D

  • Fred Conwell

    So now blowing up cars will be legal?

  • Fred Conwell

    So now blowing up cars will be legal?

  • Nick Chambers

    Chris,

    It does sound like vapor-ware to me too. But the possibility is very intriguing. Only time will tell.

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  • Eirien

    Uhh, and one gust of wind will tip the car over and cause the occupants to grind their faces into the concrete as the wind drags them 50+ feet down the road.

    Good luck on selling that visual!

  • http://pennywise-poundfoolish.typepad.com zach @ Pennywise

    What’s amazing about this isn’t the air-bag body concept, but rather. . . 2,500 miles on one charge??!!!

  • Eirien

    Uhh, and one gust of wind will tip the car over and cause the occupants to grind their faces into the concrete as the wind drags them 50+ feet down the road.

    Good luck on selling that visual!

  • http://pennywise-poundfoolish.typepad.com zach @ Pennywise

    What’s amazing about this isn’t the air-bag body concept, but rather. . . 2,500 miles on one charge??!!!

  • Sam

    If you inflate it with helium, will it become a flying car?

  • Sam

    If you inflate it with helium, will it become a flying car?

  • Paul Scwartz

    It is a typo, they say it goes 250 miles per charge, not 2500

  • Paul Scwartz

    It is a typo, they say it goes 250 miles per charge, not 2500

  • Nick Chambers

    Paul,

    It’s not a typo. The home page of the XP website states that it will go 2500 miles using the hot-swappable batteries. On the products page of the XP website it states that the car will have up to a 300 mile range. I’m guessing what this means is that each battery pack holds enough charge for a 300 mile range, but that the hot-swappable battery/fuel-cell will take it 2500 miles without having to recharge.

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  • http://www.tigremarino.com.mx Tigre Marino

    Sounds like a great idea, in theory, but looks like a Infinium Labs startup because they cite great hype in their website, but they take seriousness aside by publuishing photos of cars like the Nissan Murano and other designs.

    Yet the idea is great, and could be done by using polymers such as Hypalon, the stuff that makes river rafts, not the vinyl used for pool toy whales :D

  • http://www.tigremarino.com.mx Tigre Marino

    Sounds like a great idea, in theory, but looks like a Infinium Labs startup because they cite great hype in their website, but they take seriousness aside by publuishing photos of cars like the Nissan Murano and other designs.

    Yet the idea is great, and could be done by using polymers such as Hypalon, the stuff that makes river rafts, not the vinyl used for pool toy whales :D

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  • Milo Hatch

    Wow!

    When will it be ready? I cannot wait to drive off a cliff!

    It’s interesting that alot of smaller companies (as well as Apple and Google) come from the Silicon Valley area.

  • Milo Hatch

    Wow!

    When will it be ready? I cannot wait to drive off a cliff!

    It’s interesting that alot of smaller companies (as well as Apple and Google) come from the Silicon Valley area.

  • Jeff

    This is definitely not vapor-ware. It would cost a lot more than 5k for for any reasonably sized load of vapor-ware to land steaming hot in your driveway! Great concept for vehicle safety though.

  • Jeff

    This is definitely not vapor-ware. It would cost a lot more than 5k for for any reasonably sized load of vapor-ware to land steaming hot in your driveway! Great concept for vehicle safety though.

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  • http://www.daxdesai.com High Return Investing with Dax

    This is real out-of-the-box thinking. High gas prices should foster this type of thinking. I would buy one at the $5K price point.

  • http://www.daxdesai.com High Return Investing with Dax

    This is real out-of-the-box thinking. High gas prices should foster this type of thinking. I would buy one at the $5K price point.

  • koolmom21

    HOW FAST CAN THEY GO???

  • koolmom21

    HOW FAST CAN THEY GO???

    • http://Web mike

      about 85mph, enough to get you on the highway

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