Rinspeed XchangE Concept is Everything Bad About Driverless Cars

Rinspeed XchangE

I’m really starting to worry about Frank Rinderknecht. My encounters with Frank in South Florida centered, primarily, around the Rinspeed Yello Talbo and Mono Ego concepts from the late 90s, but we crossed paths a few times, again, while I was at RENNtech and he wanted to revive the old James Bond Lotus concept with a submersible Elise. All those cars were chock-full of epic badassery, but Frank’s latest concept (a stand up bus that would supposedly appeal to millenials) was so cynical and jaded that I started to think he was losing touch. Now, Frank is releasing some details on his upcoming Rinspeed XchangE driverless car, and it ain’t lookin’ good.

The new Rinspeed XchangE looks, from the drawings provided, like a modified Tesla Model S that’s been outfitted with reclining and revolving seats, à la Westfalia camper. In addition, Rinspeed’s concept is fitted with a steering wheel that seems to “swing away” from the driver, leaving them free to kick up their feet, take a nap, or drink espresso from what seems to be the dashboard-mounted espresso machine.

What concerns me here isn’t the idea or the layout- this is Frank’s best work in years!- it’s that everything about the car is ignoring the fact that most of the proposed legislation surrounding so-called “autonomous” cars requires an alert and present driver to act as a “backup system” for the car. In other words, it’s a utopian version of what a driverless car could be, rather than what it will be. Because of that, I think, it’s doing nothing but pushing the first generation of driverless cars further down the road, and delaying a partial solution to fuel-wasting problems like rubbernecking, brake checking, and generally bad driving.

That said, I’d love to kick my feet up and sip espresso all the way from Chicago to Ohio … maybe I’m thinking about this the wrong way? Maybe I should just say, “Siri, wake me up when we get there,” and hope for the best. What do you think? Is Rinspeed’s latest a good way to advance the cause of the driverless car, or is it time for Frank to pack it in? Let us know what you think in the comments, below.


Rinspeed XchangE

Source | Photos: Rinspeed, via AutoExpress UK.

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.