Motopia — reflections on getting there

Riley Riley

A specially curated selection of innovative vehicles headlines a thought-provoking exhibition on the future of mobility at Britain’s National Motor Museum.

The exhibition called, Motopia? Past Future Visions, covers four major areas:

  • vehicle visions will look at car design concepts
  • propulsion asking how our vehicles are powered – particularly timely when there is a resurgence of electric vehicles
  • architectural dreams will include science fiction visions
  • urban solutions showing how vehicles have been constantly re-imagined to suit our needs and surroundings

The motor cars and electric scooter illustrate 130 years of future thinking about automobility and how each generation has created different imaginative visions for motor vehicles and how they are powered.

Curator of Vehicles and Research, Patrick Collins, said the exhibition illustrates how past generations have predicted the future of road transport and the urban environment.

“We are living in a period of great change, and this exhibition will open a discussion on what future decisions we need to make and how the past may influence them. The vehicles illustrate a century of alternative thinking in automotive design,” he said.

The six vehicles featured include:

  • Columbia Electric (1901) – contrary to a commonly held belief, electric vehicles have existed since the late 19th century. This Columbia electric car was bought new by Queen Alexandra for use in the grounds of Sandringham House, Norfolk. It is one of a range of electric vehicles manufactured in the USA under the Columbia name and marketed in Britain by The City & Suburban Electric Carriage Co. of London.
  • Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz (1959) – an eye-catching luxury American car with distinctive futuristic looking styling, reflective of the post-war period of the space race of rockets and astronauts.
  • Volkswagen XL1 hybrid (2014) – a two-person, limited production diesel-powered plug-in hybrid produced by Volkswagen. It was made with lightweight materials, a streamlined body and an engine and transmission designed and tuned for economy.
  • Riversimple Rasa Alpha (2015) – an engineering prototype of a new range of hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles. The use of hydrogen fuel cells to provide electricity instead of batteries is one alternative to the internal combustion engine.
  • IRIS eTrike (2017) – described as the spiritual successor to the Sinclair C5 and developed by the nephew of Sir Clive Sinclair, Grant Sinclair. The world’s fastest, street legal electric bike includes a cooling system with an air purifier and is capable of reaching speeds of more than 50km/h, travelling around 50km on a single charge. Its body design being inspired by aerodynamic helmets used for velodrome bike racing.
  • BMW CE 04 (2023) – lauded as a masterpiece of style and engineering, this dramatic electric bike provides rapid, silent acceleration — and the slim design is suited to commuting through clogged urban traffic.

Opening on Saturday, May 20 the exhibition runs until April next year if you happen to be in that neck of the woods, at the world-renowned National Motor Museum located at Beaulieu in the New Forest, Hampshire.


CHECKOUT: Electric cars way of the future, history shows

CHECKOUT: BMW Motorrad redefines future of the scooter


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