Published on February 10th, 2016 | by Jo Borrás1
France Craft Pixel: an Open Source Electric Car
The all-electric Chevy Bolt was the automotive star of the 2016 CES show, for sure- but there was more to the electric vehicle side of the Las Vegas show than just the efforts of Tesla and the Big Three. Meet the Pixel, a modular, “open source” electric hybrid vehicle designed by France Craft.
France Craft’s vision is to offer a basic vehicle package. Basically, that’s a power unit fitted to a chassis and connected to a set of basic controls. Once the customer selects that- along with the ICE, hybrid, or EV option- they start picking and choosing the body parts necessary to turn their platform into a more “real” car. Or a tiny pickup. Or a van.
You see where we’re going with this, right?
It’s a clever idea- but that’s about it, and I’d be quick to dismiss it utterly except that it’s a clever idea that we’ve seen before. A very successful clever idea we’ve seen before, in fact- can you tell where?
That’s right! The concept is similar to bot GM’s versatile “Hy-Wire” concept and the one that launched Volkswagen, a company that eventually launched the Type 1 “beetle”, 181 Thing, Type 2 van, and later Type 3 sedans and coupes- don’t forget the little Karmann Ghia sporty coupe and convertible- from what was, essentially, the same chassis. A chassis that was, basically, little more than a power unit fitted to a chassis and connected to a set of basic controls.
Granted, having a smart idea doesn’t guarantee success- but it certainly gives France Craft a better chance of success than a stupid idea might, you know?
As for the “open source” part? France Craft hopes that the principle of interchangeable modules for the powertrain, infotainment, and overall form/function of the vehicle will help it avoid the “planned obsolescence” of many current technologies. All the vehicle platforms’ design and software information will be made available online, so that anyone who wants to build tech for the platform will have all the information they need in order be able to do so.
Details, otherwise, are scarce as of this writing. That said, you can order a “basic platform” for 10,000 Euro, and a “sales kit” is available for 20,000 EU, and includes (presumably) everything you need to “sales” France Craft Pixel EVs as “neighborhood electric vehicles” in the US.
ProTip: wait until your neighbor has one before you send them money.