Contaminated food car unveiled at the Goodwood Festival


The outside of the car is rippling to reflect the airflow above it

The Goodwood Festival of Speed ​​unveiled a car designed to remove polluted air while driving.

Created by British designer Thomas Heatherwick, the Airo will begin production in China in 2023 and is planned to produce millions.

The underlying design is intended not only to address pollution problems, but also to help solve the “space crisis”.

Critics aren’t convinced that it could be more than a concept car.

Despite designing a new version of London’s iconic Routemaster Bus, Heatherwick is well known for architectural projects such as Google’s headquarters in California and London.

He told the BBC that he had never designed a car before, but was intrigued by the overview.

Thomas Heatherwick

Thomas Heatherwick wants people to see the car as an extension of the house

“When I grew up, the value of design emerged through the car. [Ford] Sierra in the 1980s, [Fiat]Panda, some major ideas have emerged through the car.

“When I was contacted by IM Motors in China, I said we weren’t car designers, but they said,’That’s why we want you.'”

The car, which premiered at the Auto Shanghai in April, has a large glass roof, the interior is designed like a room, with adjustable chairs that can be turned into beds, meetings and dining.

The steering wheel is hidden behind the dashboard and has a series of ripples and bumps on the exterior.

“Automakers are collapsing themselves to make electric cars, but new electric cars shouldn’t just be different electric cars that look different,” Heatherwick said.

In addition to wanting to reflect the airflow over the car on the raised outside, he told the BBC that the front grille would be fitted with an air filter that “collects particulate matter equivalent to a tennis ball annually.”

“It may not sound very good, but think of a tennis ball in your lungs. It contributes to air purification, with a total of 1 million vehicles in China alone.”

Incorporating this technology is “the next stage of development,” he said. It is planned to have both autonomous mode and driver control mode.

Peter Wells, a professor of business and sustainability at the Cardiff Business School’s Automotive Industry Research Center, told the BBC:

“This car’s contribution to cleaning the air in our polluted city center would be impossibly small.

“This is immediately apparent when you compare the amount of air that can pass through the car’s filtration system to the total amount of air.”


The interior of Airo is more like a room than a car.

New room?

The second big idea behind the car design is as an alternative space for the owner to use.

“Covid caused a space crisis. Many of us live in apartments and homes and need more space, offices, or research,” Heatherwick said.

He said that about 10% of the world’s billion cars are in use, leaving room for “valuable real estate.”

He was inspired by the seats of top airlines used to “sleep, eat, entertain, and work.”

“The car is a communal space when not driving.”

The vehicle costs around £ 40,000 and Heatherwick says it’s “not a crazy luxury.”


Critics are wondering if it can be manufactured with the current design

Professor Wells is skeptical that it will be designed in its current form.

“Although the automotive industry has a long history of excitement for concept cars, the transition to production is usually more mediocre, manufacturable, and practical with exciting features, even if it happens. It means that it will be replaced by a more cost effective one. “

“This is not a fantasy,” Heatherwick said. “The overall idea was that it wasn’t a concept car, so we worked with the manufacturer to focus everything on possible ideas.”

But he admitted that the design “may be somewhat simplified” when it goes into production.

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