Good Oil: World’s first 3D-printed car on sale next year
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
If they’re 3D-printing houses these days, then surely a 3D-printed car is no great stretch?
A Chinese company called Polymaker clearly didn’t think so. It has created a Smart ForTwo-sized city car in conjunction with an Italian engineering firm called X Electrical Vehicle (XEV). And there wasn’t a steel fabrication plant in sight.
The pint-sized EV heralds the way such cars will be built in the future, says Polymaker.
The 3D-printing process also made the car’s design and construction much simpler, with Polymaker saying the number of plastic components in the car were reduced significantly from what you might expect in a conventionally manufactured vehicle: just 57 parts, versus over 200 normally.
Yes, you’re right: 3D-printing of components isn’t a new thing; Mini recently announced bespoke panel inserts for its cars, while Bugatti took 3D printing into the realms of the exotic, showing off a 3D-printed brake caliper on its Chiron hypercar that is 2kg lighter than an original machined part.
This, however, will be the first time an entire car (or most of a car at any rate) will be built in this way. Just think of the reduction in overheads; future Elon Musk entrepreneurial types could be building cars in their bedrooms. Well, their garages at least ...
Polymaker says the little city car will weigh half as much as the Smart ForTwo it is kind-of-sort-of based on, will have a battery range of around 150km/h and will be capable of an earth-shattering top speed of 70km/h. Which will be fine for the urban commute, one would imagine.
The big step to mass-manufacturing, of course, will be how well it fares in crash testing. If it shatters into a million pieces on impact ... well, bye-bye Polymaker-XEV city car.
It’ll be on display (on a plinth that has also been 3D-printed, we’d like to think) at the Beijing Auto Show at the end of April.
Jeepers, we love these Moab concepts
The Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah has represented a traditional pilgrimage for Jeep enthusiasts for more than 50 years now. In recent times, the mud-plugging maestros have taken more “ownership” of Moab festivities and have produced some rather stunning concepts and custom versions to celebrate heritage milestones.
In doing so, we reckon they’ve consistently produced some of the coolest concepts ever.
This year is no different, with thousands of Jeep fans converging on the desert city to admire each other’s Dana axles, winches and all-terrain tyres. And, of course, the Jeep displays.
Never content with a single concept created to sum up a particular designer’s fever-dream, Jeep goes all-out, producing a handful of concepts based around existing fare, such as the Wrangler (well, duh) and the Grand Cherokee.
You can kind of break the concept vehicle themes down into two categories though: Doomsday Prepper, and Nostalgia Fan.
On the former front, the J-Wagon Concept apes what a Wrangler might look like if Mercedes-Benz’s iconic G-Wagen were more closely mimicked.
Considering the Wrangler is probably the closest cousin to the German SUV, it’s not a long stretch, but looks great regardless.
Here in the Good Oil offices though, we couldn’t go past two awesome concepts that hark back into Jeep’s voluminous history books. One was a resto-moded mint green Wagoneer dressed up as if – according to Jeep designer Mark Allen – “on a road trip to Yellowstone Park” in the 1960s.
Our favourite is the Jeepster (pictured); a two-tone beach hopper that started off as a Wrangler Rubicon but has had its windshield raked back 2.5 degrees and a hardtop roof added which sits a couple of inches lower than stock.
The rear seats have been sacrificed to make room for a BF Goodrich KO2 off-road tyre and the classic sloped rear roofline too. Gnarly, dude.
Forget the Bentayga: Bentley Conti GT off-roader will get you there
And speaking of off-road vehicles, here’s one you might not anticipate seeing on a sand dune.
It’s made by a Dutch company called — somewhat improbably — the Classic Youngtimers Consultancy. And yes, rather obviously, underneath those wheel arch extensions and that externally-mounted spare wheel, it’s a Bentley Continental GT.
Just imagine Mad Max with a monocle.
The Bentley has been reborn with a suspension lift kit, and a number of systems removed from the underside of the vehicle so as not to be sacrificed on rocks and other things not generally encountered in the Koru Club valet parking lot.
The front and rear wings have been modified to allow for greater suspension travel, and a customised roof rack with integrated spotlights has also been added. Inevitably there is plenty of matte paint too.
No sight of a gun rack, but for the more well-heeled gentleman farmer, it’s surely only a matter of time before the Classic Youngtimers Consultancy hooks up with Bentley’s bespoke go-to coachbuilder, H J Mulliner & Co., to engineer a grouse-hunting weapon mount for the off-road Conti GT.