Brian Stretch writes with a story about the Mini Utility Vehicle prototype from XP Vehicles, an electric car that is partly inflatable. The recent struggles of the auto industry and a political climate that supports the development of alternative energy vehicles have given the car a better chance at actually hitting the market. Quoting: "Building a car takes many years and tens to hundreds of millions of dollars traditionally. XP is able to cut a lot of the costs and timeframe because its car has 70 percent less parts than a regular car, and the company is using novel materials that require simpler factory devices, and production and manufacturing processes that lower the cost to deploy. ... The seat is inflatable, the dashboard is inflatable, and the internal structure and carrying racks are inflatable, or a mesh suspension. Instead of requiring six-axis robots, XP uses radio frequency welders that look like giant waffle irons. The factory equipment is much less expensive and the car simply has less parts that could fail. The motors are built into the rear wheels in most XP prototypes. The first cars to reach the market will have two rear hub motors and a motor controller, that's it."
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