A London-based designer and architect, Thomas Heatherwick of the Heatherwick Studio has come up with a state-of-the art electric car concept that could clean air pollution as it drives around.
The concept car was introduced earlier in April 2021, after the designer was approached by a Chinese vehicle manufacturing company, IM Motors, to design the concept car, which is not only friendly to the environment, but also looks quite different.
The Airo, as it is being called, is a compact electric car, with its front grills containing air filters which could collect air pollutants amounting up to the size of a tennis ball in a year. The car uses the HEPA-Filter technology and doesn’t cause its own pollution but also actively contributes to vacuuming up all the pollutants from the cars driving alongside on the roads. If such a mechanism is introduced in all of the cars in China alone, it could create a significant change.
Talking to the BBC, the designer of the car said, “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.”
In addition to its pollutant collection functionality, the car looks nothing like your usual car. The interior of the car has more of a living room appeal with a table in the middle of four adjustable chairs, which can even be converted to a bed. The steering wheel of the car is hidden in the dashboard allowing extra room making it a good choice for sustainable living.
According to sources at the IM Motors, Heatherwick was approached intentionally knowing that he had no experience in designing cars and will come up with a novel idea, one that hasn’t ever been on the books before. Combining his knowledge of interior design with the blank canvas of eco-friendly car design, the London-based designer came up with the unique concept of Airo, which is now expected to go in production in China by 2023.
“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,” the designer of the car said.
While many welcomed the concept, the car has received a lot of criticism from automotive experts as well as environmentalists who are quite skeptic about the ability of the car to cut down pollution.
Peter Wells, a professor of business and sustainability at the Cardiff Business School’s Centre for Automotive Research believes that the car will not make any significant contribution towards eradicating environmental pollution. He also firmly believes that the car is not practical for most vehicle owners.
According to Peter Wells, since the car only gathers a tennis ball’s worth of pollutants in a year, it’s contribution in the urban areas of China alone will be insignificant and almost impossible to measure.