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Smart for-us concept puts a mega-pickup spin on the fortwo

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By Ben Coxworth
16:39 December 7, 2011

Much as some people loathe it, I’ve always kind of liked the Subaru Baja. It has the quirky short-bed car/truck look of the Hummer, but isn’t anywhere near as large and nasty as that vehicle. Well, the designers at smart have taken the “little Hummer” idea to the extreme, with the for-us concept. Premiering next month at the North American International Auto Show, the two-seater electric car looks pretty much like a smart fortwo … with a little cargo bed in back.The for-us is a little larger than the fortwo – 613 mm (24 inches) longer, and 50 mm (2 inches) wider on each side. Its drive system consists of a 55-kilowatt magneto-electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, delivering 130 Nm (95.88 ft lbs) of torque. Its top speed is reportedly over 120 mph (193 km/h), although there’s no word on range.

The 900-mm (3-foot) rear cargo area could presumably handle a rough, tough mountain bike or two, although it’s designed to accommodate a couple of smart ebikes – there’s even a docking station, to keep their batteries charged. The idea is that the car(?) could be driven to a pedestrian zone or municipal trail system, at which point the bikes would take over.

One of the for-us’ snazzier features is a powered retracting tailboard, which pulls back to allow the tailgate to lie flat, in turn allowing for easy access to the cargo area. The vehicle also features a rear-view camera, which is viewed through a smartphone mounted on top of the instrument panel.

Will we ever see the smart for-us for sale? Who knows? The prototype can be seen at the auto show in Detroit, however, from January 14th to 22nd.

Source and more photos

World’s Largest Solar-Powered Boat Circumnavigates Globe

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Posted by Eugene

PlanetSolar‘s TÛRANOR is currently on its way to becoming the first solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the globe. Driven by a silent, pollution-free electrical engine that is powered exclusively by solar energy, the PlanetSolar team has two goals in mind. The first objective is to show that current technologies aimed at improving energy efficiency are reliable and effective. The second is to advance scientific research in the field of renewable energy.

The world’s largest solar-powered boat has already been to Miami, Cancun, Brisbane, Hong Kong and just made its way to Vietnam. Measuring around 101 feet long and 49 feet wide, the $26 million TÛRANOR can comfortably transport 50 passengers.

The Swiss-designed, German-built ship is powered by over 5,380 square feet of solar paneling. The panels power two electric motors, which can reach 15 miles per hour. The panels can also soak up enough stored energy to power the boat in cloudy weather for three days. The excess energy is stored in a giant lithium-ion battery.

And, in case you were wondering how PlanetSolar came up the ship’s name, TÛRANOR is derived from the “Lord of the Rings” saga by J.R.R. Tolkien and translates to: “the power of the sun” and “victory.”

Original Article

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