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The lack of space in our cities is a real problem that anyone can run up against. Here, the Projeca engineering company has thought up an innovative solution to make more room without taking up more space (two for one, so to speak!), and all thanks to composite materials.
(Published on August-September 2005 – JEC Magazine #19)
At the 2004 Paris Auto Show that took place from September 25th to October 10th, engineering company Projeca presented a functional prototype for a variablecapacity vehicle based on the Renault Master.
A patented system
The project started in February 2003, inspired by observation of the road performance and poor drivability of large camping cars, particularly in the urban environment. Users always seek maximum comfort and living space, especially during stopovers. This innovative concept was developed on a lightweight utility vehicle, without change to the builder’s original structure. The innovation is based on the ExtenSpace system, which is patented by the European Patent Office (EPO).
The vehicle has a mobile cabin that covers part of the basic vehicle’s body when in the cruising position. For stopovers, the mobile cabin slides back to create 8m3 of additional space, or about 2/3 of the volume of the basic vehicle’s fixed cabin. The wall for the mobile cabin is manufactured in the company’s production unit in the Vendée department. The panel, which is made of glass-fibre-reinforced polyester resin for high rigidity, is all in one piece and hardly shows any parting lines, although the mould is made up of several parts.
The vehicle in the cruising position is more compact, so it remains very easy to handle. It can be rapidly transformed into the stopover position, thanks to the lightweight composite secondary body, which provides ample living space. Before adding the structure, which weighs 340kg (including the body, floor, door and mechanical parts), several components must be removed from the basic vehicle. These weigh 124kg, so the total additional weight from using the mobile cabin is only 216kg. “Using composite materials is very attractive in the present case, since their low weight means that the vehicle’s payload remains practically the same,” says Projeca Managing Director Fabrice Druelle.
For a variety of applications
The space can be used for leisure or professional applications. In the area of leisure vehicles, Projeca is working on a campingcar version (which should be presented in September at the Leisure trade show in Paris) and a sports/outdoor version, both of which need equipping. These two versions will be different from the professional ones. There are also plans for alternative “kits” for different professions.
Projeca is working with partners to industrialize the concept so that the professional versions might be marketed by the fourth quarter of 2005.