In May, Automotive News in the US wrote an article about a new patent that Ford had filed in the prior month. It was for a multi-modal transport system – not new as a concept but one that Ford was patenting as a way to ensure future products are secure from others launching similar ideas.
The Ford idea is a vehicle that combines a motorcycle with a small car. Patent number US 2018/0111540 A1 and dated April 26th 2018 is titled “Vehicle with an Integrated Electric Motorcycle” and would actually make a great April Fool’s joke. Although the patent was filed through Dearborn, the ideas came from an office in Germany.
The design showed an electric motorcycle attached to the car in an odd way – it was slotted between the driver and passenger seats with the in-car entertainment of the car fitted to the motorcycle! The front bonnet/hood opened up to allow the motorcycle to leave the frame.
The concept has a valid reason for existence: with more emissions controls being applied to inner cities, the Ford boffins have thought about a driver reaching the outskirts of a city and then needing to change modes of transport to get into the CBD with fewer emissions. The patent discusses that this could be done today with a car and a bicycle fitted on a rack and even describes other patents with similar ideas using a unicycle!
The Ford used for the patent looks like a mini-SUV and apparently the designers saw the vehicle parting ways where one passenger detaches the motorcycle whilst the rest of the occupants continue in a different direction. However the central console of the car appears to be the seat of the motorcycle, so it would be a very tight squeeze in the car and when the motorcycle was released, there would be no console!
The car itself was also electric with hub motors on each front wheel – there would be no space for an engine if there was a motorcycle there! The patent suggests that the vehicle could be extended to have the motorcycle power the car or have a hub motor on all wheels. I would think that if the motorcycle was powering the heavier vehicle it would be quite sluggish.
The funny thing about the patent is that if the car is also electric, it actually negates the main reason for having the vehicle in the first place – the reduction of emissions in the city! The patent does discuss the issue of parking a car in an inner city environment, however I don’t think many people would use a vehicle like this simply due to the logistics of having to have two licences (car and motorcycle), carrying motorcycle safety wear and then stopping and changing outerwear to continue. In inclement weather that would be a nuisance.
It is good that these ideas are being created and recorded because out of several of these concepts might come a useable vehicle.