Engineers from Fomm have created flood-poof all-electric vehicle

Amphibious vehicle concept has been developed specifically for high flood risk areas.Brand-new four-person EV concept from small Japanese company Fomm(First one mile mobility) weighs only 1,104 lbs, uses two electric motors, has a water-jet generator that allows the operator some amount of maneuverability in deep water and features a bunch of other stuff that'll definitely come in handy in case of disaster.

6/11/15 5:00 am chumakdenis 1

Climate change is really a big issue nowadays.If you regulary listen news , then, more likely, you are familiar with the number of accidents reported : powerful Texas flood, Nepal floods, and these are only a few of many.

Brightest mind all over the world are working to find the solution to "mother nature's revenge" and about one of these solutions we're going to talk next.

Meet, Fomm Concept One (do not confuse with sporty Rimac Concept One )  - amphibious vehicle that has been developed specifically for high flood risk areas.

History

Amphibious vehicle Fomm Concept One has been created by a small Japanese company called FOMM for Thailand's high flood risk areas(it'll serve the purpose in other areas as well).

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The inspiration for Concept One and the formation of Fomm came from its CEO, Hideo Tsurumaki. After the tragic Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the possibility that other coastal towns in Japan would be hit by a Tsunami became a very real possibility. Hideo Tsurumaki's hometown is located in a danger area, so he formulated had a dream the idea of a small car that could float out of flooded areas and "swim" to safety.

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Creating the ideal amphibious vehicle is not as easy task, as it involves making numerous compromises on whether your vehicle should be geared towards roving the land or skimming the sea. Hideo's vision was to optimize the vehicle for land use, so much so that in the true sense it is not strictly an amphibious vehicle - i.e. its movement on water is limited, but it does float.

"Its amphibious ability is only there for emergency situations, which could mean the difference between life and death" -  told Hideo Tsurumaki, further explaining that maintenance is required after use in floods and any water submersion.

Hideo's dream started to become a reality just after the formation of FOMM in February 2013. Foreseeing problems with entry into the fledgling Micro Mobility Vehicle in Japan, FOMM switched its market attentions from Japan to Thailand.

This switch of direction did initiate a few changes to the original idea. The biggest change was that the original two seat capacity was increased to four by adding a rear bench. Such an addition was a relatively easy design change to make, as all the driver controls are mounted on a handle bar type steering control. The result is a vehicle that with enough room for four adults despite its compact size.

About the concept itself

Concept One is driven both on the land and in the water by its two front wheels, each being fitted with an in-wheel 5 kW electric motor. Based on his experience working for Toyota on the Coms EV project, Hideo says he chose front wheel drive because rear wheel drive vehicles tend to lock up and skid in wet and slippery conditions under full re-gen braking as weight is transferred forward.

Weighing in at just 1,104 lbs, the FOMM Concept One uses two electric motors making a total of just 12 horsepower but over 400 lb-ft of torque, and a water-jet generator allows the operator a minimal amount of maneuverability in deep water.

To get the maneuverability required for an urban vehicle, it was also decided to have in-wheel motors as against a single front motor and drive shafts. The disadvantage of this mechanical arrangement, Hideo concedes, is that it has made the car a little more expensive and complex that he would have liked.

In the water

In the water, the Fomm Concept One's propulsion comes from both the tire tread and the wheels themselves. When rotating at high speed the front wheels act like impellers to generate some movement. The wheel "blades" are reversed on the other side of the car, so that as the front wheels spin forward, the left wheel and the right wheel are both drawing the water in, so acting like an impeller and moving the car forward. This process is reversed when the wheels are spun backwards.

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Steering in water is also via the front wheels, which change the direction of the thrust and so the direction of the vehicle.

Water testing

Water testing of Concept One is still in its early stages and, if costs and efficiency can be kept in-check, a four wheel drive system may also being considered.

Specs

As of now,the Fomm Concept One has a range of around 100 km (62 miles) and a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). It weighs 460 kg (1014 lb) and is made of plastic, both injection molded or vacuumed formed, that covers a tubular space frame.

Indigenous steering wheel

FOMM forgoes a traditional steering wheel for a motorcycle handlebar style setup, and traditional doors are replaced with sliding doors that allow access even in extremely tight areas. There is seating for up to four people, or two people and some cargo,yet there’s nothing one could call an actual cargo area. 

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By and large, vehicle was built with purpose to evacuate people from disaster area.

Maybe, within time we'll see modified amphibious vehicle specifically for rescue operations, but it's to early to talk about that.

Other advantages of vehicle except being waterproof

There are more advantages to electric vehicles in disaster areas than just being waterproof though. Getting gasoline to hard-hit areas can be all but impossible when roads are washed out, but the combination of electric cars and solar panels makes filling-up a lot easier. The quiet operation of EVs also could allow rescuers to better hear those in need of help.

Second-generation concept

Fomm is currently in the process of constructing its second prototype and there will be a number of changes made to move it closer to a production ready vehicle. These include replacing the front perspex windshield with a glass unit, which will also require the addition of two extra A pillars. At the rear, an opening hatch will be added which will provide an emergency escape when waterborne. As mentioned, four-wheel drive may also be fitted to improve speed in the water and egress from water to land.

Plans for the future

Hideo's plan is to market the Concept One to city dwellers that live in flood threatened areas as a potentially life saving vehicle. As there are no foot controls and entry and exit is very good through the sliding side doors, it may also appeal to the elderly market. The commercial market is also a possibility(I bet that UNICEF would buy some), as the rear seats can be replaced with a cargo platform, it would give local governments an extra edge in times of flooding or in the rainy season.

Anyway, it's too early to talk about this for the Fomm Concept One remains only a concept on its current stage of development, 

but it may change within some months for we already have working full-scale model.

Let's hope that we'll see amphibious vehicle available to buy by this summer and let's also wish Hideo Tsurumaki good luck with that one and wait for more news from this noble men.

  concept breakthrough all-electric vehicle amphibious vehicle innovations fomm company japanese automakers fomm concept one flood-poof all-electric vehicle

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