According to Volkswagen, the hovercraft is the car of the future. They recently revealed the winner of their car of the future design.
This would be a multi-terrain vehicle which will include sand, water, ice, and snow. Zhang Yuhan, the 21-year-old designer of the Volkswagen Aqua craft left no stone unturned. The car of the future will incorporate design aspects that will enhance the driveability, as well as the journey. A panoramic view is part of the design. The vehicle will be able to negotiate the various terrains with the help of high-powered fans. The vehicle also uses airbags that inflate to achieve lift.
The entrance to the car is a hatch in the back. The design currently only allows enough space for two, however, the design challenge is on to create a family prototype as well. The Aqua has a sporty design and features two motors. The motors are powered by hydrogen fuel cells which perform different functions. One cell assists with the inflation of the airbag to achieve lift, and the other is responsible for the actual movement and steering. The fuel cells have zero carbon emissions.
The hovercraft is no new concept. It is the brainchild of Christopher Cockerell. This impressive invention has been around since the late 1950’s. The idea was to create a way for the friction between the boat and the water to be less. The hovercraft did not stay in or on the water. The transition to mud, snow, and ice has meant easier access to and from desolate places previously thought inaccessible. The fuel efficiency is somewhat dubious, however, with the introduction of hydrogen fuel cells, this should change. Hydrogen fuel cells are not limited to hovercrafts and will make an invaluable contribution to the fight against high emissions.
Hydrogen fuel cells are being developed for all types of vehicles after the successful implementation of other applications. The first commercially available vehicles that use hydrogen fuel cells are the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai ix35 FCEV. They have the ability to reduce carbon emissions by up to 45% when compared to ordinary motors. Critics are however not as upbeat over the fuel cells, as these cars are much more expensive. The Toyota Mirai has a starting price of $ 57,500, therefore making it quite pricey and unattainable for the general public. The technology world has to improve substantially in order for the price to drop. Those in the know predict that this would not feasible until 2020. The cost to produce these vehicles are still too high and could leave the manufacturers out of pocket.
With the entire world focusing their attention on the advancement of harnessing all hydrogen fuel cells have to offer, it may well come to fruition before anticipated. Car manufacturers like Honda and Mercedes-Benz have introduced demonstration cars that will hopefully go into large-scale production soon. Whether they will be affordable in terms of production and purchase remains to be seen.