John Baltazar and Hussain al-Mousawi's Astrum Meera concept car.
John Baltazar and Hussain al-Mousawi's Astrum Meera concept car. Drive

Distance no barrier for ideas

DISTANCE is no barrier to cutting-edge car design. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the Astrum Meera concept car - the collaboration of designer John Baltazar and 3D-rendering specialist Hussain al-Mousawi.

But what makes this project unique is that while the concept was penned in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, it was built in its virtual form across the border in Bahrain.

According to Baltazar, it was this tyranny of distance that sparked the idea of the Meera's most interesting feature: a magnetic suspension and propulsion system that sits inside each wheel, helping to make the car lighter and faster.

Baltazar says he and al-Mousawi used email and file sharing to build their first project, the Astrum Zefanya 2010. That got Baltazar thinking about how different modes of transport could help distant workers get things done.

"It came to me that what if our next car travels at Maglev train speed, so we can meet and discuss face-to-face," he says.

Meera's face features a low and wide grille offset by a pair of jagged slashes wrapping high on either side to form the headlights and indicators. Further outboard are intakes that feed cooling air to the front brakes.

Meera's side profile features a deep seam that rises in the rear to another set of intakes for the small engine that powers an electric motor. The vents each feature 12 LEDs that help illuminate around the car.

Sensors built into the squared-off exhaust system indicate when the car's CO2 emissions exceed the normal amount.

There's no sign of rear-vision mirrors to interrupt the design, either; well, not until you fire up the motor. Once that happens, a pair of rear-view cameras glide up out of the front fenders to capture the image.

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