Phoenix, a concept car made by Kenneth Cobonpue and Albrecht Birkner, avoids many of the pitfalls of modern vehicles. It’s made of sustainable bamboo rather than resource-intensive metal. Its shell can be replaced when it wears out. It’s lightweight, electric-powered, biodegradable, and handcrafted. Of course, it would also be useless on the highway and probably make you look like a bozo, but you can’t have everything, can you?
The designers have lofty goals for the car, which took only 10 days to build:
Cars have always been a product of heavy industry using tremendous resources, expensive tooling and excessive energy. Phoenix challenges convention by sourcing renewable materials from the earth and using a frame that is built by hand using very minimal tools and energy. Today, cars are engineered and built so well that they actually outlive their purpose. People replace their cars every 5 years in industrial countries and 10-20 years in developing countries. Because of this, disposal becomes an environmental problem. Phoenix introduces the concept of a naturally woven skin which biodegrades together with the life of the car. Should a car’s life extend longer than average, this shell can be replaced inexpensively. No longer a product of automation, Phoenix brings back the dignity of the human being and pays homage to the skills of the craftsman. In addition, because it is handmade, frames can be customized according to the needs of the individual.
Bringing back the dignity of the human being sounds really great! We’re just not sure the apotheosis of human dignity involves tooling around in an electric basket with wheels.