While on the way to work yesterday, I noticed that almost everyone - including me - was commuting alone, wasting goodness knows how much gasoline. I passed a lone cyclist and thought it's too bad that not everyone can make that choice. Even a SmartCar isn't practical for many folks; while you'd think that childless couples like Sylvia and I would be ideally suited for such a vehicle, the truth is we need the extra space once or twice a month for shopping.
Still, most of the time my car is used by me alone for the morning and evening commute. Three empty passenger seats and an unused trunk, carted around every day for no purpose.
But what if the driver's seat was an independent compartment, detachable from the main vehicle? Say the left front section of the car was a three-wheeled, modular component that would lock into the main car or truck when carrying passengers or cargo, but when only the driver is present, you could leave most of the car behind and ferry only yourself to your destination?
I realize that there are a lot of design challenges facing this concept. The independent unit would have to have its own fuel storage, electical system, etc. And all that would probably add significantly to the weight and fuel consumption of the parent vehicle when the entire assembly is out on the road.
But if 90% of the time you leave that extra weight behind, I wonder if you'd wind up with a less polluting, more energy efficient vehicle overall.
This has probably already been tried somewhere, but the concept certainly tickles my fancy. Of course, you'd always need to back into your parking stall...