Goodwood Festival flaunts Pollution-eating car


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The Goodwood Festival of speed showcases a car specially designed to strip the air of pollution as it drives.

Airo is created by British designer Thomas Heatherwick. It is expected to undergo production in China in 2023, with plans to make a million of them.

Its deep-seated design is projected to address not only the pollution issue, but also help solve the “space crisis”.

Critics, on the other hand, are not swayed by the idea of it being more than a concept car.

Mr Heatherwick designed London’s new version of the iconic Routemaster bus. Therefore, he is better known for architectural projects such as Google’s headquarters in California and London.

He even told in an interview – although he had never designed a car before, still, he was fascinated by the brief.

“When I grew up design values were manifested through cars, whether it be the [Ford] Sierra in the 1980s, the [Fiat]Panda, some major ideas were emerging through cars.

“When we were approached by IM Motors in China, we said that we were not car designers and they said ‘that is why we want you’.”

This car was first unveiled at the Shanghai car show in April. It has a large glass roof, with an interior that looks like a room. 

It consists of adjustable chairs that can be turned into beds. Moreover, there is a central table intended for meetings or meals.

The steering wheel is hidden in the dashboard and the exterior is coarse, with a series of ripples or elevations.


“Car manufacturers are falling over themselves to make electric cars, but a new electric car shouldn’t just be another one with a different look,” said Mr Heatherwick.

 And to replicate the flow of air over the car in the grooved exterior, the front grill will be fitted with an air filter which will “collect a tennis ball worth of particulate matter per year”, he told.

“That might not sound a lot but think of a tennis ball in your lungs, that is contributing to cleaning the air, and with a million vehicles in China alone that adds up.”


Space Crisis

Another big idea behind the car’s design is an alternative space for people to use.

“Covid has raised the space crisis. Many of us are living in flats and houses and need more space, an office or a study,” said Mr Heatherwick.

According to him, cars are used for roughly only 10% of the time. So, there is room for them to become “valuable real-estate”.

He was inspired by first-class airline seats, which are used “to sleep, eat, entertain and work”.

“The car becomes a communal space for the time when it is not driving.”

This car is priced around £40,000 – something Mr Heatherwick described as “not crazy luxury”.

He further said – 

“The car industry has a long history of creating excitement around concept cars but the transition to production – if it happens at all – usually means the exciting features are replaced by something more mundane, able to be manufactured, practical in use and cost-effective.”



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