The Dymaxion Dream Reincarnate: Volkswagen Showcases the "Purposeful Aesthetics" of Earth-Friendly Design

By Wagner, Cynthia G. | The Futurist, January-February 2010 | Go to article overview

The Dymaxion Dream Reincarnate: Volkswagen Showcases the "Purposeful Aesthetics" of Earth-Friendly Design


Wagner, Cynthia G., The Futurist


One could not help but smile when Volkswagen introduced its trim little concept car, the L1, at the 2009 auto show in Frankfurt. Smile, with nostalgia for futures past ... and for visionary inventor R. Buckminster Fuller.

The future is, and has been for some time, streamlined.

In a description strongly reminiscent of that for the Dymaxion car, which Fuller designed and built in the 1930s, VW outlines its philosophy for the latest car of the future in a press package:

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

  In developing both prototype generations of the L1, Volkswagen simply
  questioned everything that typically characterised an automobile. The
  key starting point was body construction, and a core question was
  raised here: How would a car have to look and be built to consume as
  little energy as possible? The logical answer: extremely aerodynamic
  and lightweight.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Thus, aerodynamically designed and built with lightweight materials, the 838-pound, one-liter vehicle (with a fuel economy of 240 mpg) may be on the market by 2013-realizing a vision for efficient transportation that's more than 75 years old.

Is this the reincarnation of Fuller's Dymaxion Car we see before us? The new vehicle is at least a worthy descendent, bearing traces of its ancestor's noble silhouette.

VW's L1 is far smaller than Fuller's Dymaxion car, with room for just two passengers (one sitting behind the other), while Fuller's vision accommodated a larger American family of up to 10 passengers.

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