Following the devastating 2011 tsunami, Japan’s Fomm designed an electric vehicle that can protect people in areas susceptible to flash floods or tsunamis. The Concept One electric car is not only the “world’s smallest class four-seater electric vehicle,” but it can also can float like a boat.
Fomm is targeting the Concept One in areas around the world that are prone to flooding, like Southeast Asia. The tiny vehicle weighs 1,014 pounds and is just over 8.2 feet long, six inches shorter than the Smart Electric Drive. During normal operation, two in-wheel electric motors have a maximum output of 5kW with a range of approximately 62 miles. But when water levels rise, the Concept One uses a water jet generator to move through the water and its lightweight, buoyant tires act like fins in the water. The car also does away with a traditional steering wheel, and instead uses a motorcycle-style handlebar to accelerate and brake.
Hideo Tsurumaki, president of Fomm says that his hometown is known as a danger spot for tsunami disasters and that he designed the Concept One to be able to withstand them. The car’s floating ability is only an emergency function and significant maintenance is required even after just one water outing. The company says that the Concept One is ready for mass production, which is expected to begin in 2015.