A completely new outlook
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic a young designer is dreaming about the future of coach travel. With his Horizon Liner Janis Ufheil has offered the bus industry a whole new outlook.
Yes, Janis Ufheil also wears black jumpers, a typical designer habit even if most of them wear black turtlenecks. He fits other stereotypes too. He is young and highly creative, and with the thesis he wrote studying Transportation Interior Design at Reutlingen University, in close cooperation with the Daimler Bus Design department, he is already causing a stir. Why? Because he approaches coach travel dynamically and from new angles, without stereotypes.
In the future, and here everyone involved agrees, vehicles will be integral to our environment and take on the role of personal assistant. We will be mobile without the need for a driving licence or owning a vehicle. What looks like a powered skateboard with a superstructure was something electromobility had already foreshadowed, but which Janis Ufheil has long turned into something real. And to great effect. It certainly turns heads, and not only because of the superstructure’s generous use of glass. “The Horizon Liner’s modular design makes it possible for the interior to combine different theme worlds,“ Ufheil says.
What that means is shown by the “Culinary“ version in his thesis, where culinary enjoyment dictates both the interior and travel experience. The design features lounge-type seating and integrated tables, where naturally a glass of wine and a regional speciality are the main focus. The latter is prepared by an on-board chef in full passenger view, made possible by the vehicle’s galley. Later in the evening it transforms into a bar serving sundowners.
Without doubt, Janis Ufheil has the answers to the travel mobility questions of the future. His coach design for the year 2030 is a vehicle that represents part of a larger personal environment and experience. Naturally, there is no longer anyone at the wheel. The vehicle is driverless or rather, we are being driven. Ok, that happens on today’s coaches too, but in future a driver will no longer be on board. And one other thing is certain: hydrogen will be the energy source powering future coaches, of that the designer is sure. A so-called "horizontalisation" feature using ball joints is part of the experience too, explains Janis Ufheil. Because they are always pointing horizontally, passengers hardly notice inclines, or banking and centrifugal forces, and instead can enjoy an unparalleled panoramic view from the glass cabin. The Horizon Liner will make the world around us an even more intense experience.
Long before the coronavirus pandemic this young designer discovered a trend, and with the Horizon Liner has shown what still seems hidden beyond the horizon. Designers are, and that is not a cliché, ahead of their time. They detect trends long before they become talked about. Janis Ufheil discovered a market that bus travel can successfully occupy by targeting small groups. Up to 15 people can travel together in a Horizon Liner. “Environmental awareness and trends such as destination-hopping, a desire for more authentic, quality travel, for unforgettable experiences along with a ‘lust for information’ will characterise tourism and especially bus tourism in the future,“ is how Ufheil explains his vision.
His coach design targets exclusive round trips, a kind of land cruise providing an ultimate experience in outstanding comfort, of course. Janis Ufheil expects tours to be one or two weeks long at most, with overnights spent in hotels along the way. What makes his Horizon Liner concept special is that one can choose a particular travel theme in advance and book a correspondingly equipped coach. That way, groups of travellers will have similar interests, can get to know each other more easily and exchange inside knowledge.
Onboard there will be an expert on the selected theme who can offer travellers advice, is how the designer explains the concept. This mirrors the “Culinary” design version for instance, where personnel take care of passenger cuisine. Combined with the “horizontalization“ feature it offers an innovative, previously unheard of travel experience, and a completely new outlook for bus travellers in the future.
For an animated impression of the Horizon Liner click here.
Text: Rüdiger Schreiber