As it presents its draft design for an electrically powered luxury rickshaw, Stuttgart’s Maybach Manufaktur automotive hand-finishing section is exploring radical new avenues for the urban mobility of tomorrow as part of the Los Angeles Design Challenge. The Maybach DRS – “Den-Riki-Sha” (= electrically driven rickshaw) – blends the very latest automotive technology, luxurious comfort, and the highest safety levels with the needs of an environmentally aware world and the traditional values of the classic “Jin-Riki-Sha” (human-powered rickshaw). The futuristic four-seater is created through metamorphosis from a DNA cocoon, making it the world’s first naturally manufactured vehicle. The rickshaw was developed by the designers at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios in Tokyo – participating in the Los Angeles Design Challenge for the first time.
The design competition had invited international automotive design studios to draw up their vision of a car that weighs 1,000 American pounds (around 454 kilogrammes) (kerb weight). The remit was to create a four-seater small car that is safe and comfortable, offering good handling and first-class design.
“This was a major challenge – in particular for a brand such as Maybach, whose luxury has thus far manifested itself not least in the vehicles’ size. This is why, when building the Maybach DRS, we combined the European concept of luxury with the Asian feel for optimum use of space, so we were able to create a vehicle which blends both in an intelligent manner. Thereby we have shortly undermatched the weight limit”, explained Holger Hutzenlaub, who heads the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios in Tokyo.
The amalgamation of organic intelligence and biomechanical engineering artistry
Breathtaking looks, polished luxury, and technical brilliance characterise the ambitious development of the Maybach DRS. The design is reminiscent of a butterfly’s cocoon, light and elegant as it floats between two oversized wheels. The rickshaw is made in a unique, natural production process. Through a complex and perfect metamorphosis a finished vehicle is developed from a DNA cocoon: Organic intelligence blends with advanced biomechanical engineering. The result is a futuristic combination of an ultralight structure and an unparalleled luxury exterior and interior – for a limited number of exclusive vehicles.
The vehicle frame consists of carbon fibres and organic composite materials, whilst the doors and windows are made of injection-moulded polycarbonate and the panoramic roof of flexible organic composite materials. The Maybach DRS is powered by two 20 kW electric motors which are positioned in the wheel hubs and are self-balancing. The energy required is produced by a lithium-ion battery in the tail end. An on-board computer ensures optimum control, communicating with the metropolis’s transport infrastructure, and thus guaranteeing a smooth, luxurious ride through the city. In order to increase the vehicle’s range, the human/electric hybrid also allows additional pedal force, which is produced by the driver.
Totally true to the grand Maybach tradition of luxurious mobility, the Maybach DRS – “Den-Riki-Sha” – is carrying forward this heritage, paying homage to the roads of tomorrow.