Open Source Hits the Vehicle Market

Open source; it’s the buzz word of the 21st century’s IT world thanks to a little green robot that appears on the screen of 80% of the world’s smart-phones. The concept is simple; open source promotes universal access via free license to a product’s design or blueprint and encourages ongoing development by anyone willing to lend of their time and expertise.

Its impact has been wide spread – but is by no means limited to Information Technology. Beverages, medicine, engineering and fashion sectors have all embraced this creative practice of free sharing. But of specific interest (to me anyway), is the recent development of an open source vehicle.

Now that may sound quite an odd concept, but what the Italian firm of OSVehicle has created is exactly that. Branded the ‘IKEA-car’, customers are shipped the various components along with blueprints downloaded off the company website that help guide the assembly, which should take just 60 minutes according to the creators.

There are currently two models under development. The Tabby consists of a basic two or four person chassis in an open-air kind of arrangement, which means there aren’t any body panels. While the Urban Tabby features a body structure which can be placed on top of your Tabby chassis; thereby creating a road-ready and certified car which will be legally recognized in Europe, Asia and the United States. Logical assumptions indicate that the Urban Tabby would then also qualify for our humble South African roads.

The buying process is relatively simple. Just decide whether you want two or four seats, an electric, petrol or hybrid engine and wheels – which I assume one needs – and you’re done. Plug in your credit card details to pay the bill of somewhere between R42 500 and R68 000 depending on specifications and you’re away.

OSVehicles say the Tabby range of vehicles could be suitable for a variety of purposes, including internal or private transportation within airports or large factories, transportation of water, food or medical supplies in isolated places such rural Africa, or the creation of a “green” car sharing fleet.

Locally they would be most suited to a dense urban environment – or perhaps a large estate like Zimbali for example. As they’re capable of around 80km/h you won’t be the cause of a 5fm traffic report; and apparently if you’re feeling brave you can turn up the wick on your electric motor and reach 150km/h, so you may even be good for a short burst on a highway.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled over the coming months to see what developments arise as a result of open source inputs. With the first production Tabby’s due to hit the roads of Europe early this year I predict some whacky creations rolling off home-based assembly lines.

First published in Autodealer KZN

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