It sounds too good to be true. One minute it’s a svelte, compact city car capable of zipping through urban traffic and squeezing into the slenderest of parking spaces.
The next, it can change – just like a Transformer robot – to become wide and low for cruising along open roads with consummate stability and for handling tricky corners in the manner of a sports car.
If such versatility sounds a bit far-fetched to be reality, we’ll let you into a little secret: it is.
That’s because the MONO electric vehicle is a brilliant concept car, the theoretical brainchild of Korean-born, New York-based designer Heesang Ahn.
A Product Design graduate from Parsons The Newschool for Design, Ahn is currently working as an industrial designer at a leading consumer products manufacturer.
But he also describes himself as “an open-minded designer who specializes in crafting compelling conceptual work” and the MONO EV is exactly that.
Ahn’s MONO is a funky-looking, four-wheeled electric vehicle that can adapt its wheelbase to the road type and traffic conditions at the push of a button.
Around town, MONO presents a tall, thin profile for easy manoeuvrability and parking in spaces that you would usually only consider in a Smart Car or on a motorbike.
Out in the country or on the motorway, MONO can widen, increasing downforce and improving stability at speed.
It’s the transition that Ahn proposes which is fascinating. According to the designer, the car can approach a parking space full width and, at the flick of a switch, the wheels will turn 90° inwards to push up against the chassis in an eye-catching action, all this apparently when the car is either stationary or in motion.
MONO’s wheels are even ‘designed’ to pivot 360°.
MONO shrinks down to 1/5 the size of a ‘regular’ car, narrower than a Smart car and only slightly wider than a motorcycle.
The amount of space saved is “catastrophic”, says Ahn, which we can only assume is a good thing in this case. MONO can then return to the dimensions of a ‘regular’ car – even in mid-flow on a motorway.
Ahn lists a few more technical specifications for this hypothetical set of wheels.
The driver can step easily into the car through the front, with the canopy lifting up as a door.
There is no rear seat, so this isn’t a couple-friendly vehicle.
The car’s main computer is located in the back, while in the front there is space for a suitcase.
MONO is equipped with lithium ion batteries, one on each side. That limits the distances that MONO can be driven though at least it will be eco-friendly in terms of emissions.
Two ‘bodies’ on the sides protect the driver while the distance between the driver and the wheels is meant to create crumple zones.
Ahn has even conceived computerised parking meters doubling as charging stations with ten MONOs able to feed off one station.
So is the MONO only a design concept, just a pie-in-the-sky computer rendering that will never see reality? Well, essentially yes, however...
Ahn has tried to go beyond conceiving a car that ‘just looks good on paper’ by making this scale prototype, using 3D printing technologies to create components which he then sanded down and painted.
He also used a heat gun to make the windscreen out of Plexiglas.
Ahn says: “I tried to figure out the engineering, but it was too complicated, so I just made a basic structure. At the moment, it would be costly to develop. But, it is a future concept design. A century ago, airplanes were super expensive to manufacture.”
As well as car design, Ahn’s “professional passions” include electronic devices, home appliances and watches. Click this link to check out some of his timekeeper designs.
Ahn says his professional goal is to become “a successful designer internationally” and with the MONO, it seems he is already on the right track.
For more information on Heesang Ahn, please visit his website: www.heesangahn.com/.