It is rather interesting to note that sometimes, a particular device or in this case, mode of transportation comes in an unorthodox form factor that you might actually be confused to know which is its primary function and what is the secondary one. The AutoTram for example, is it a bus, tram or train, or all three rolled in one to create a new class of public transport? In such cases, I like to follow the Bard in saying, “A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”
The AutoTram is a fully-electric, zero-emission light-train on wheels, where it will not run on a single charge in the manner of an electric car, but rather, it will go between charging stops, making full use of the 30-second jolts of energy before it moves onward.
According to Ulrich Potthoff, head of the transport department at the Fraunhofer Institute, and the person behind the concept, the whole idea of the AutoTram is to offer the masses the dexterity and low-costs of a bus, sans noise and fumes. “We wanted it to be flexible and rather cheap like a bus system–less expensive than light rail. One way we achieve that is not to have any overhead line, or rails.”
Hopefully everything will be finalized by next year, where the AutoTram is said to feature lifecycle-costs which are 30 to 50 times cheaper than light rail, albeit more expensive than diesel buses. All in the name of going green, no?