If you think that everyone and their 2nd cousin seem to be dipping their toes into the electric car game, you wouldn’t be too far off.
We’ve not seen an electric car designed by an architecture firm until now, however. Heatherwick Studio, known for some iconic buildings and bridges around the world, has unveiled the Airo this week, in partnership with newly formed IM Motors in China.
To be fair, Heatherwick Studio is more design firm than architecture firm, and have experience with vehicles with the redesign of London’s classic red busses, the New Routemaster.
Even still, it’s clear that the Airo concept is unique, both from a design and operation standpoint.
With a sculpted, textured exterior and a playful, almost toy-like demeanor, it’s pretty evident this isn’t the work coming out of design shops from Ford or Volkswagen.
With airy doors that slide open on either side and an airy cabin with seats that swivel, it’s clear this vehicle is meant for autonomy.
What’s more, the car claims to be more than just a zero emissions ride. Using advanced HEPA filtration, the car aims to actively clean the air from other cars around it, almost like a vacuum.
“Airo isn’t simply another electric car that doesn’t pollute the air,” said Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio.”Instead, using the latest HEPA-filter technology, it goes further by also vacuuming up pollutants from other cars as it drives along.”
The car’s interior is meant to be as flexible as possible, with seats that fold down flat to create a bed, and a glass roof with privacy mode that instantly becomes opaque.
“Designed to simultaneously address the global space shortage, Airo is also a multi-functional room with extra space for dining, working, gaming or even sleeping,” said Heatherwick.
“As a new room for our lives, with a changing view, Airo is a car intended to transport us to a cleaner and better future.”
In addition, Heatherwick has designed unique charging stations for the Airo, also full of character and decidedly different.
Set for production in 2023, we will be curious to see if IM Motors produces this car as is, or changes the design to something more generic and expected.
Regardless, it’s fascinating to see the future of transport take on so many different shapes and configurations.