Rinspeed XchangE concept, 2014 Geneva Motor Show
For decades the firm has churned out all manner of weird and wonderful vehicles, from submarines based on the Lotus Elise to 2012's Dock+Go--an electric Smart with an extra battery pack that could dock with the car itself.
2014's show will see Rinspeed launch the XchangE, an electric vehicle representing "the future of autonomous driving".
Yes, it is based on the Tesla Model S.
No, there is no company safe from Rinspeed's attention.
The concept behind the XchangE is to break away from the current thinking behind autonomous vehicles, that drivers still need to maintain some level of control of the vehicle.
Instead, the car takes a look at how a vehicle's interior could change if that autonomous time was dedicated to something else entirely--relaxing, working, entertainment and so-on.
To this end the seats have been redesigned to slide, tilt and even swivel to positions more suitable for non-driving pursuits, to the tune of more than twenty different seating arrangements.
A steer-by-wire system allows the futuristic steering wheel (complete with hands-on recognition, drive-mode-manager display in the rim and transparent multifunction keys with ambiance lighting) to slide to the middle of the redesigned dashboard and out of the way.
With that done, driver and passenger have access to display screens and more, or can simply extend an extra cushion and put their feet up.
A total of four different screens relay information and entertainment to driver and passenger. Most unique of these is the 1.2-meter wide screen mounted on the dashboard along which the steering wheel slides. In the back Rinspeed has gone all Xzibit with the XchangE and pimped Tesla's ride with a 32-inch monitor using the latest 4K high-definition display tech.
As you'd expect from a car purporting to be a car, office, living room and trendy urban space all in one go, LTE data transfer and various cloud-based services are available to driver and passengers.
The interior may be different to your average Model S but Rinspeed has thankfully left the exterior relatively untouched. There's a subtle bodykit, a dubious shade of paint, some 20-inch Borbet wheels and a unique grille design, but otherwise it's all noticeably Tesla.
Aside from the roof, of course. A "Radiant" surface coating by Evonik Industries provides the shimmery texture and presumably helps cool the inside of the car, despite letting plenty of light through to the cabin.
A host of technology partners worked with Rinspeed on the concept, so while the XchangE itself won't be hitting our roads, one or two of its features--particularly those linked with autonomous tech or infotainment--probably will.
We'll bring you a full live gallery of the XchangE from the Geneva Motor Show, beginning on March 4.