Special Coverage

Auto Show

GENEVA – The E2 from Swiss coachbuilder Rinspeed AG unveiled at the auto show here is a concept based on the Abarth performance version of the Fiat 500 city car that lets the driver decide when to choose performance over fuel economy.

Electronic engine controls on the 1.4L turbocharged gasoline engine are designed to operate at two power levels accessed through the flip of a switch.

With the “commuting” setting, the engine generates 60 hp and uses fuel at a rate of 58 mpg (4 L/100 km). The “highway” setting unleashes the turbocharger and boosts power to 160 hp, while lowering fuel efficiency to 33 mpg (7 L/100 km).

“Just like the auto industry has to adjust to the demands of a new era, tuners have to look for new ways to do business as well,” Rinspeed CEO Frank Rinderknecht says. “Many drivers are not willing to miss out on driving fun and don’t want to drive something that announces to the world that they do without.

“But the number of people who want to use our energy supply responsibly, not in the least because they want to protect our environment, will grow quickly.”

Rinspeed also shows a second concept car, the iChange electric vehicle, which expands from a 1-seat sports car to a 3-seater. The idea is that driving range will be extended if there are no passengers and the car doesn’t have to push empty passenger space through the air.

Rinspeed envisions the iChange as a 150-kW (201-hp) car with a top speed of 137 mph (220 km/h).

Unusual for an EV, the car uses a regular 6-speed gearbox, taken from the Subaru WRX, rather than a continuously variable transmission. Siemens AG supplied the integration technology for engine/generator, electronics and connection interface for the lithium-ion battery pack.