(from Rinspeed Press Release)
In what has become a fond tradition Rinspeed Design, the Swiss creative
powerhouse for automotive concepts and emotions, presents yet another
surprising and astounding attraction at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.
To celebrate their 10th concept vehicle the Rinspeed crew has created
the Rinspeed "Splash”.
Under the ultra-light carbon-composite skin lies much more than just an
agile and lively sports car. The Rinspeed “Splash” is the true
incarnation of a really cool and fun sports toy. At the push of a button
a cleverly thought-out hydraulic mechanism transforms the sports car
into an amphibious vehicle. But that alone wasn’t enough for Frank M.
Rinderknecht (48), founder and boss of Rinspeed. A highly complex
integrated hydrofoil system enables the “Splash” to ‘fly’ at an altitude
of about 60 cm above the water.
On land, on water, and in the air
The almost magical transformation from a
street vehicle into a floating and ‘flying’ all-rounder is made possible
by an electronically controlled hydraulic system with an array of
The transformation starts with the nondescript rear panel, which flips
up to reveal a Z-drive in horizontal rest position, borrowed from a
watercraft. The Z-drive is fitted with a conventional 3-bladed propeller
and can be lowered to its fully ‘standing’ position from the cockpit.
The position of the drive is infinitely variable, which guarantees
immediate propulsion upon entering the water. A custom-designed transfer
case sends power to the rear wheels, the propeller or both, depending on
the input from the pilot. Starting at a water depth of about 1.1 meters
the Z-drive can be lowered all the way to its fully ‘standing’ position.
Steering commands are entered via the steering wheel and transferred to
At a minimum water depth of about 1.3 meters the pilot can deploy a
highly complex system of hydrofoils integrated into the sleek body of
the “Splash.” The Formula-1 type rear spoiler rotates 180 degrees down
and comes to rest below the “Splash.” To the left and right of the high
side walls of the cockpit two hydrofoils integrated into the outside
skin rotate 90 degrees to point straight down before unfolding into
their lifting V shape.
The angle of attack of each hydrofoil can be adjusted individually by
the pilot to account for the various operating states. Already at low
speeds the vehicle begins to lift itself out of the water. The fully
suspended position can be reached at speeds as low as 30 km/h. The
unusual vehicle then travels as a true hydrofoil at an altitude of about
60 cm above the water. Even the wheels are free of water contact. On
smooth water the “Splash” is capable of reaching a top speed of about 80
km/h (approx. 45 knots).
Naturally the “Splash” can also be operated as a ‘conventional’
amphibious vehicle. With retracted hydrofoils the “Splash” reaches a top
speed of almost 50 km/h (approx. 28 knots). That is fast enough for
water skiing or knee boarding.
The body of the “Splash” is designed to be watertight. Additional
buoyancy chambers provide extra lift. Also borrowed from shipbuilding
are a bulkhead design with independent chambers and bilge pumps – in
case some water does find its way into the cockpit or the engine bay.
Fourteen rubber bellows guarantee freedom of movement of drive train,
suspension and steering.
power from just 750 cm3
The “Splash” is powered by an
environmentally friendly bivalent turbocharged natural-gas engine.
Natural gas is an extremely clean-burning fuel that consists almost
entirely of methane with near-zero sulfur content. The “Splash” is the
world’s first amphibious vehicle to be equipped with this
future-oriented engine technology.
Preserving the environment does not mean sacrificing driving fun - and
neither does the low overall weight: The turbocharged two-cylinder
four-valve engine from Weber Motor powers the watercrafts and snow
mobiles from Polaris, albeit as a gasoline-powered engine. In its
bivalent turbocharged natural-gas configuration the engine delivers a
maximum power output of 140 hp/103 kW at 7'000 rpm. The peak torque of
150 Nm is available at a low 3'500 rpm. Street performance is nothing to
be ashamed of: The 825 kg quick-change artist accelerates in about 5.9
seconds to 100 km/h and reaches a top speed of 200 km/h.
The sleek lines of the “Splash” draw
attention at first glance. However, one of the basic ideas behind the
“Splash” concept was to design an automobile whose multi-functional
capabilities are not immediately apparent. Hardly anyone will realize
that the ‘soft-edge design’ “Splash” can fulfill the age-old child’s
dream of almost boundless mobility at the push of a button.
The entire body of the “Splash“ consists of multi-layered carbon
composite, a state-of-the-art plastic mainly used in Formula One racing.
It offers exceptional stability at a low specific weight. The striking
bodylines of the “Splash” are the expression of the fine art of
engineering. The low windshield protects against drafts and its tinted
Folia Tec glass contributes to the futuristic chrome look.
The sporty stainless-steel exhaust system from Remus provides the
adequate powerful engine sound. The chrome-plated dual exhaust tips give
the “Splash” a unique and highly dynamic rear appearance.
The lightweight body sits on a suspension custom-developed by KW
automotive. It features inboard shock absorbers, adjustable ride
firmness and height. The suspension engineers succeeded in creating a
suspension that represents a perfect synthesis of ride comfort and
sporty handling characteristics.
In.pro. custom-developed chrome-plated bi-xenon headlamps for the
“Splash” as well as LED taillights. The latter not only represent the
beginning of a new design trend, their ability to come on almost
instantly also contributes to the prevention of accidents.
Aye aye, Captain
The interior of the “Splash”
clearly pays tribute to its maritime qualities. Lightweight and
waterproof plastics cover the tubular frame and the ergonomically shaped
plastic seats. The small sport steering wheel is perfect for the agile
handling characteristics of the lively and highly maneuverable “Splash.”
A number of chrome-plated shift knobs, which govern the amphibious
functions and the angle of attack of the hydrofoils, exude an atmosphere
reminiscent of an airplane cockpit.
Hydroplaning - on water
The Rinspeed “Splash“ runs
on Continental SportContact tires with 17-inch diameter in front
(215/35-17) and 18 inches in the back (225/35-18). The Continental tires
combine environmentally friendly design, very good handling
characteristics and excellent grip. They are mounted on chrome-plated
aluminum rims (7x17“ front, 7.5x18“ rear) custom-made by Barracuda.
Frank M. Rinderknecht used highly
advanced technology and a Swiss-based network of top automotive
specialists for his project. Although there is no automobile production
in Switzerland to speak of, there is a very active automotive supply
industry there. Many highly innovative prototypes have been developed
and manufactured in Switzerland.
Engineered by Esoro -
What you dream is what you get
For the fifth time the Swiss engineering
company Esoro was hired to serve as general contractor for the entire
vehicle project. Esoro was responsible for project management,
engineering, design and manufacturing of the Rinspeed Splash.
Esoro masterfully met the challenge with the help of its highly
competent suppliers Naval (marine), Swissauto (drive train adaptation)
and Protoscar (styling). Starting with initial concepts, it took the
highly skilled development team just seven months to realize the entire
project including tests on the road, on the water and in the “third
dimension” by flying at high speed over a lake.
Esoro has been a contract developer in the areas of automotive
production, lightweight design and plastics technology for 13 years.
During this time it has gained a well-deserved reputation for excellent
efficiency and innovative solutions not just in these but also in other
fields, including fuel-cell vehicles and prototype design. Esoro has
impressively demonstrated its expertise with numerous extraordinary
And even more: Esoro developed the new E-LFT production technology,
which makes large scale production of high-strength and lightweight
composite parts affordable. E-LFT composite parts weigh 30-50 percent
less than comparable steel parts. Furthermore another production process
for similar parts, but small scale niche markets is near completion.
gasmobil - A Strong
The spread of natural gas as a fuel of
choice is supported by the shareholders of gasmobil AG and local natural
gas suppliers. Natural gas is a meaningful and environmentally friendly
alternative fuel, which can make a significant contribution to the
reduction of harmful pollutants, especially in congested urban areas.
When combined with CO2-neutral biogas, the pollution emission levels are
improved significantly. The most important arguments for natural gas and
biogas as fuels: Lower pollution levels compared to gasoline or diesel;
better mileage in hybrid versions and therefore also more economical,
lighter and cleaner refueling; subsidies for the purchase of any new
vehicle in some cantons; manufacturers’ guarantees; and vehicle safety
similar to all other passenger cars.
Natural gas and biogas
as the fuel of choice - the future is now
gasmobil, SwissEnergy and Rinspeed -
three strong partners, who develop vehicles for everyday operation and
future visions for mobility. The vehicles jointly displayed are fueled
by environmentally friendly natural gas or biogas: the VW New Beetle
Cabriolet uses standard drive train technology. The VW Golf Variant has
a novel exhaust treatment concept, which was developed for gasmobil AG
together with ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Department of Energy (BFE
and SwissEnergy), the Paul Scherrer Institut Villigen (PSI), Automobil-
und Motoren AG (AMAG), the den Industriellen Werken Basel (IWB), as well
as the Gasverbund Mittelland AG as part of a Novatlantis Project
entitled “An Innovative Vehicle Fleet For Basel”. The splash
demonstrates that even unusual drive train concepts can be used both on
the road and in the water every day.
Fuel supply - no
problem in Europe
Employing natural gas and biogas means
taking another step on the way to less crude oil dependence for the
world's economy. The tremendous environmental potential of natural gas
cannot only be exploited in static use, but also by road vehicles to
reduce harmful pollution levels from soot, nitrogen oxide, CO2, and
hydrocarbons. Furthermore, natural gas motors reduce noise pollution
levels compared to conventional units. These drive technologies are
mature and market-tested. It is hard to find a manufacturer which does
not have one or more models in its program. In addition to this, the gas
station network in Switzerland and the rest of Europe is being developed
rapidly. Round-the-clock supply is guaranteed.
Through its SwissEnergy program, the
Federal Office for Energy has been promoting the use of natural gas and
biogas for over 10 years. Initially it mainly supported research work.
Between 1996 and 2000 SwissEnergy supported a pilot and demonstration
project with “Kompogas” vehicles in the region around Zurich. Over 100
vehicles were put on the road as part of the project and the responses
by users were very positive.
Meanwhile, the Swiss gas industry has been establishing a network of
natural gas refueling stations and the car industry has been expanding
its range of natural gas and biogas vehicles. For three years now,
Gasverbund Mittelland AG, Rinspeed AG and SwissEnergy have been working
closely to promote natural gas and biogas as a motor fuel. The concept
cars designed by Rinspeed AG enable the public to visualize the
possibilities offered by natural gas as a motor fuel and serve to dispel
the prejudices against this young and clean form of fuel that
unfortunately continue to prevail. The use of natural gas and biogas as
motor fuels helps to spare valuable resources and generates lower
emissions than traditional motor fuels. Natural gas produces around 20%
lower emissions per energy equivalent of the greenhouse gas CO2, and
renewable biogas fuel is even CO2-neutral.