Better than the Batmobile

Swiss engineering firm's car makes a splash. Rinspeed

Swiss engineering firm Rinspeed will show a one-off car at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show that can reach speeds of up to 80kmh on water and up to 200kmh on land.

This content was published on February 23, 2004 minutes

It flies at an altitude of 60cm above the water's surface, thanks to an integrated hydrofoil system.

The "Splash", as the vehicle is called, costs more than $500,000 ($405,000). It is powered by an environmentally friendly turbocharged natural-gas engine.

But preserving the environment does not mean sacrificing driving fun, says the company.

A turbocharged two-cylinder four-valve engine from Weber Motor is used to power the car. Normally such engines power snowmobiles from Polaris.

Concept car

The car is the brainchild of Frank Rinderknecht, founder and chief executive of Rinspeed, which has a reputation for delivering concept cars at the Geneva show.

The company's main business is contract design and engineering for mainstream auto firms.

For example, together with partner firm gasmobil, it developed - along with the Swiss Federal Department of Energy, the Paul Scherrer Institut Villigen, Automobil und Motoren and the Industriellen Werken Basel (IWB), as well as the Gasverbund Mittelland - a novel exhaust system for the VW Golf Variant.

Rinderknecht says he relies on a Swiss-based network of top automotive specialists for his projects, including the firms SwissAuto Wenco, Esoro and SwissEnergy.

Although there is no automobile production in Switzerland to speak of, there is a very active automotive supply industry.

"Many highly innovative prototypes have been developed and manufactured in Switzerland," said Rinderknecht.

by Valerie Thompson

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