Nyx by Elizabeth Pinder, United Kingdom

2012: City 2046. Art, Life & Ingenuity.


Elizabeth’s mind was set on becoming a Car Designer at a very young age. This became evident when still at junior school, when she began designing and making boats, helicopters and cars from wood, paper mache and card. Inspired by her father’s panel beating skills, she would help wash the repaired cars at the family’s bodyshop and became fascinated by the tactile feel of surfaces and contours, which enhanced her passion for design.

After completing her A levels in the sciences, Elizabeth began her direction towards car design by attending Coventry University. She won a bursary to study for a year in Hong Kong’s Polytecnic University for Art and Design, and attained her BA in Transport Design in 2009.

She was accepted into the Royal College of Art following two consecutive years’ placements at Opel and Saab in Russelheim, Germany. In between her two years at the RCA she won a placement at Ford’s Ingini studio in London, working on global projects. Additional projects at the RCA included Hyundai small vehicle, Honda motorcycles and a small city vehicle for Citroen. She was also a finalist at the 2010 Interior Motives Awards in Paris for Best User Experience. In 2011 she graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Vehicle Design.

Design Brief

An ever increasing city size means a longer commute for suburban dwellers. As public transport, such as the Metro, is often devoid of comfort and personal space, a personal vehicle that offers both without pumping out Co2 or burdening the already-stretched electric charging system that Paris currently has in place, would be ideal for disgruntled commuters.
The vehicle’s flowing lines and narrow body allows it to break traditional ideals regarding aggression in both design and driving style (especially around the Arc de Triomphe). This makes way for a more relaxed approach to driving, which will in turn encourage other road users’ behaviour and driving style to follow suit.

In a nutshell, Nyx is a little pocket of peace in which to recover from the stresses of everyday Parisian life.

How does your design answer the anticipated preferences, lifestyles and transportation needs for the people in your country or region?

Nyx is an indulgence. Nyx is a privately owned vehicle in a city that is ever more reliant on public transport. However, other than the space it would take up on the road, nyx is a totally guilt-free vehicle to drive. Using a mixture of innovative technologies and applications, it is a 100% clean vehicle. With large daylight openings, it shies away from the cocooning effect many interiors impose and lets the occupant connect with the passing world, whilst also being separate from it.

What makes your design unique?

Many hydrogen powered vehicles have come before Nyx, yet they have failed to catch on. This is in part due to a lack of infrastructure and a fear amongst the general public of the dangers associated with hydrogen usage as a fuel – images of the Hindenburg disaster come to mind.

As well as technological and application advances, Nyx addresses this issue by replacing that violent imagery with feelings of serenity and contentment.

What technologies, innovations, lifestyle needs and concepts have you incorporated into your design? How?

Nyx does away with traditional storage gas cylinders for hydrogen and instead splits collected rain water (stored within glass tubules of the interior structure) into hydrogen and oxygen via a catalyst currently in development at MIT. This, partnered with sunlight collected in especially designed water prisms, lowers the solar energy required to split the water into its constituent parts. The hydrogen is not stored, rather injected into the fuel cell to generate electricity. The energy is therefore stored only as electricity or potential energy as water and sunlight.
This does away with the issues of tank apprehension and hydrogen drainage, as well as the need for considerate infrastructure change.