Sometimes, different tasks call for different tools.
The idea of being able to mix-and-match different components of a mechanical device to fit the job at hand has been around for a while.
- Many screwdrivers let you change out the bit. Now you only need one screwdriver for multiple types of screws.
- Vacuum cleaners often have a half-dozen bizarre attachments for cleaning different surfaces and hard-to-reach areas.
- Cameras have various attachments for different types of photograph.
- Firearms also have many possible attachments. For example, if you are bringing a rifle to a Civil War re-enactment or a post-apocalyptic Terminator-style re-enactment, you might want a bayonet or laser sight, respectively.
There is even a project to demonstrate how this idea would apply cell phones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Ara
But the idea of being able to mix-and-match different parts has, surprisingly, never been applied to cars.
Instead of having to over-buy your car / truck for the largest job you might need to use your car for (“maybe I’ll need to move a bunch of furniture, I’ll get a large truck”), instead you could just buy a modular car and switch out the modules in question.
For example, if you bought a small 2-door car but find that it has insufficient space, you could swap out the rear half of the car for a larger four-door model.
Similarly, if you find your large station wagon is too difficult to park downtown, you could swap out the back half with a tiny trunk module.
Fig 1: Color-coded modules for a car. Top: the yellow “driver” module + orange “pickup truck” module. Middle: a standard rear module in brown. Bottom: an “extra seating” module in green plus a “rear-facing extra seat” module in blue for high-density seating.
A user could switch out modules as desired, without the need for any mechanical expertise, due to standardization for the connections between modules (shown in red in Fig. 1).
PROS: Now you won’t need two cars, you can get away with… one and a half cars?
CONS: A side-impact collision would probably cause this type of car to explode into its component modules.