Rinspeed Thinks THIS is the Future of Cars – It's Not

This is Rinspeed’s latest concept car – a small, stand-up cube with plenty of room to move around, carry your things, and (let’s face it) have dirrty sex in. Rinspeed CEO, Frank M. Rinderknecht, believes it’s the future of cars.

Is Frank right?

Ignore the car, for a moment (Chris did a solid review of the thing a few days ago, anyway), and just consider the automotive context for a moment.

Consider that GM is pulling out all the stops to find a way to get America’s youth (circa 2012) interested in cars. Not just its own cars, mind you, but cars “in general”. Other carmakers are in the same boat, leading to desperate comparisons to smartphones, “Joe Camel” quality age-pandering, and a massive push towards convergence of automobile and personal computer.

This, though? This MicroMAX minivan should be the opposite of pandering, being exactly what Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky says Gen-Y is asking for. It’s the size of a new Mini (which isn’t that mini), and fits between 4 and 6 passengers in a UPS-style semi-standing position. It should be easy to park, too, what with all those windows and clear sight-lines.

Here’s the problem, though: only baby-boomers will buy this.

Why do I think that? I look at the last few attempts from major automakers to make something like this – it’s not a new idea, after all – and I see rabid packs of blue-hairs lining up in droves to buy them. The Honda Element, Nissan Cube, and Scion tB, for example, all followed the same (short-length/tall height + adjustable interior) formula to reach out to America’s hip/trendy youth market … and the people who bought them? My aunt and uncle (well into their 60s). Their neighbors. My dad, who bought one for my sister as a graduation gift because, honestly, he bought into the marketing – and that, dear reader, is precisely the problem.

These aren’t the cars Gen-Y is asking for, these are the cars that a bunch of aging baby-boomers think kids want. They don’t really understand a youth that’s 2 or 3 generations removed from them, at this point, and that came of age in a credit-driven recession that saw many of their parents lose savings, pensions, homes, and (you guessed it) cars.

Sorry, grandpa, but new cars aren’t cool. New cars are trouble with a capital “T”, and until you grasp THAT idea, you’ll never know how to sell to Gen-Y.

We’ll see what the motoring world thinks of Frank’s latest when it’s officially unveiled at the next Geneva Motor Show. As for whether or not I’m right, try to find a clean BMW E30 or rear-drive Volvo Wagon for sale and see what those things are going for these days.

Source: Rinspeed, via TechVehi.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.