Webr by Robert Martin, USA

2008: Smaller. Safer. Better.

Scale Model on Display at Michelin Challenge Design™


Bob Marvin is the principal of Torque Consulting, focusing on integrated product innovation and marketing. He holds a BFA in Industrial Design from Mass. College of Art, an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and over 40 design and utility patents. Projects have included everything from consumer goods, medical products, toys and transportation, to a radio telescope array.


The Webr absorbs crash impact within a small amount of weight and space by using a network of steel/aramid fiber cables as the primary dynamic suspension components. Rear swing arms and front multi-link arms are kept in tension by opposing sets of cables, anchored on a central plate underneath the car.  The dynamic ends terminate in a set of coil-over shock absorbers, incorporating encoded linear motors.  The motors provide active suspension characteristics by adjusting overall and local tension for different speeds, loads and driving conditions.  They also adjust the overall wheelbase and track of the vehicle, allowing it to expand for good road holding, or contract into tight spaces for city parking.  In the event of a crash, the cable network will react with smart rebound/absorption, forming a 3-D shock-mitigation system much like a loosely strung tennis racket or volleyball net.

The cable system is also a major component of side/angular impact protection, comprising the structure of the outer door and fenders.  Having the cables expand the structure outward during driving creates more distance between passengers and potential hazards, with even distribution of odd-angle strikes.  The cables also tie into the front and rear crash structures, providing the same feedback/impact distribution characteristics.  The 3-D nature of this system is especially critical for lighter vehicles which often suffer secondary and tertiary impacts after being ”punted” from the initial contact.

The cabin itself is a unified structure of non-woven carbon-fiber, impregnated with layers thermoplastic resin so that it can be pre-trimmed and heat-pressed like sheet molding compound for manufacturing practicality. Layers are sandwiched around formed blocks of crash foam, making a light and strong structure.  The small pick-up bed and FWD bio- diesel drive train components are engineered to pass below the cabin in a crash.