This places the maximum width and height of the vehicle in the middle with the lengthways profile tapering
towards either end. To ensure good visibility for the driver it is envisaged that a compact and aerodynamically
styled camera system is mounted above the car together with a flashing light to improve visibility for the driver
and of the car to other drivers.
This line of reasoning determines the general size and shape of the low profile vehicle concept. It is suggested
that the low surface area, shape and weight of a low profile car would provide a substantial reduction in energy
use relative to a full sized car, perhaps down to 1/6th of that of a typical car
using the same method of
propulsion (see figure 9)
. The method of propulsion could be an IC engine, battery electric or hybrid.
Whilst there is nothing fundamentally new in small concept cars, here the emphasis is focussed on how an
associated road infrastructure can provide additional benefits and encourage the uptake of such vehicles by
offering rapid transit through congested areas. In this way, mass use of these low profile vehicles in place of
conventional cars would also offer substantial opportunities to enhance transport capacity without much road
building. For example, many roads can accommodate or be expanded to include an extra low width lane,
thereby increasing road capacity at a fraction of the price of widening an existing road, or building a new road or
highway. Local government could also encourage the uptake of low profile vehicles by building underpasses
under the main roads to link minor roads see figure 9. These minor roads would form a complete parallel road
infrastructure so users could use these for short journeys and at congested times to avoid heavy traffic (see
figure 10) and would only be accessible to low profile vehicles by building width restrictions along the route.
Another option is to allow these low profile vehicles operating in an electric mode and subject to a low speed
limit to use the cycle lane network which would allow these to be utilised and expanded. Within built up areas,
local government could also provide parking spots for low profile vehicles in town centres since they take up far
less space than a conventional car. If a totally separate infrastructure could be developed that is parallel to the
main road network, then their weight and efficiency could be reduced further since their crash resistance
properties, which is dictated by the potential for collisions with larger vehicles, would become less relevant (see
These figures illustrate that its not just the individual vehicle concept that is important but the way it uses and
interacts with the associated infrastructure to encourage its use over standard sized cars. This concept is called
LOw profile vehicle with Complementary Infrastructure (LOCI).
Example of the use of a LOCI vehicle for short trips
A driver wishes to take her child to school. She has a number of options: either use her familys 5 seater car, the
COAST system, or their electric powered low profile vehicle. She decides to take her child herself using a low
profile vehicle since the school grounds offer free direct access to these safer vehicles and it is easier to park at a
shopping precinct on the way back home.
The school is only 3km away by main road, but only 2 km by the network of minor roads and cycle paths which
provides a short cut and can be used by her low profile vehicle. At an average speed of 20 kph this only takes 6
minutes, whereas by using a full sized vehicle on the main road her transit time would actually be 10 minutes
due to the longer distance travelled and extra time queuing in congested traffic.
On the way home she travels back by a different route to stop a shopping precinct. Here, the only available
parking slots are allocated for low profile and COAST operated vehicles. She can therefore quickly and easily
park her vehicle and complete her shopping.
Her home has also only limited parking provision; however, it has room for one full sized vehicle and a thinner
low profile vehicle per household. These vehicles are more than sufficient for the familys requirements.
Her carbon emissions for this journey were insignificant due to the very low energy use of the vehicle and
ability to charge the batteries overnight.
22 This assumes on a curb weight of 200kg +batteries for the low profile vehicle based on weight and drag ratios respectively
23 the calculations are contained in the low profile vehicle worksheet in spreadsheet 2