PriestmanGoode is more commonly associated with their work in aircraft interiors, hospitality and product design, though the London-based design consultancy has also designed public transport and high-speed trains. In the past year, the company has designed smaller use-case vehicles to transport goods and passengers in urban areas. The New Car for London is one such proposal.
The New Car for London (NCFL) concept is the company’s vision for the future of ride-hailing vehicles. The fully autonomous vehicle was designed to cater to a wide range of users and explore how it could impact the aesthetic of the city landscape. The project also recognizes the importance of transport design as integral to how users experience cities.
The starting point for the design was to look at the city of London, a metropolis with a vibrant history and a center for culture that also has a global presence in design, engineering and technology. The PriestmanGoode team harnessed a wealth of references to create an aesthetic that represents this mix of heritage and innovation while offering a new mobility service that could sit beside the iconic double-decker London bus and black cab.
“Cities risk losing their unique identity as a result of the globalization of the major ride-share apps,” says PriestmanGoode Creative Director Dan Window. “We wanted to address this.”
Aesthetically, the New Car for London combines simple geometric forms with contemporary angular details inspired by London’s brutalist architecture, notably the National Theatre on London’s Southbank. At 3600mm in length, the New Car for London is the size of a compact vehicle, but with maximized internal space.
The vehicle has been designed with a large amount of glazing to give passengers a view of the city. An information strip on the door provides key information, ensuring passengers know they’re entering the vehicle they’ve ordered. An illuminated front grille, side cameras, and integrated indicators provide clear markings and ensure visibility for other road users and pedestrians.
Future vehicles need to be able to adapt to each passenger’s needs. Technology has enabled customisation at the touch of a button in many areas of everyday life. To that end, PriestmanGoode envisages that an app will enable passengers to configure and tailor the interior to suit their needs prior to entry into the vehicle. Users can customize the seating, lighting, glazing and music within the interior before the vehicle arrives.
“Smart home technology means people are becoming accustomed to controlling their environment from their own devices,” says Window. “We wanted to integrate this as part of our concept. In the future, we believe passengers will be able to pre-select from a series of settings from work mode to leisure, or even sightseeing prior to entry, all from their own devices.”
The interior can be configured to suit riders’ needs. With two premium seats – opposite the doors, allowing for easy access for large items – with pull out leg rests that create a full sofa-style seat and two additional fold-out seats for two more passengers.
The interior also features a motion-controlled lamp with accompanying app to adjust brightness and hue; a console with integrated cup holder; a wireless phone charging dock and a rotating table controlled via the app that increases the surface area available to accommodate a laptop, book or food. There’s also a belt and floor grooves to keep suitcases in place; an umbrella stand with integrated dryer; a coat/bag hook and a magazine pocket.
Another feature of the interior is a central rug, which creates a more domestic feel. Made of woven vinyl flooring, the rug is washable and easy to maintain. The geometric pattern is inspired by the traditional moquette patterns found throughout London’s iconic transport system. The interior color palette includes contemporary blue, portland stone, and oxford blue with punctuations of electric cyan and brick red – a reference to the city’s buildings.
PriestmanGoode has also ensured that key passenger anxieties surrounding hygiene and safety that have resulted from the pandemic are integrated within the design. The New Car for London includes a hand sanitiser dispenser, washable materials such as waterproof laminate textiles, leather and recycled plastic, while integrated UV cleaning ensures the vehicle is cleaned after every journey.
“As we develop future vehicle concepts, we wanted to explore how they might benefit communities more widely,” Window explains. “We’ve envisaged that they could support emergency services through intelligent design elements. The integrated first aid kit, for instance, could help provide support in emergency situations while waiting for first responders. For us, it’s really about thinking beyond just the individual user, and to consider the positive impact that future mobility solutions could have on communities.”
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