The Future In Motion

The Future In Motion

Before we cared about climate change and not causing the earth to overheat, the automotive industry was fixated on creating concepts that pushed the boundaries of what’s possible on four wheels. Some manufacturers previewed future production models or provided a glimpse of a brand new model, but mostly they were presented just for the sake of making news. Today, concept cars are not just billed as mere design studies, but are an indication of a direction automakers plan to take in the years ahead.

Over the past few months, from Geneva to Tokyo, we’ve seen everything from a hyper-class sports car, an electric SUV brimming with tech features, to a revolutionary van that includes drool-inducing concepts. Keep reading as You & I singles out eight concept cars that are on the way over the next few years.           – Anisha

VW I.D. EV CONCEPT

What It Is
From its sleek design to its autonomous-driving technology, the Volkswagen’s first of a new range of electric vehicles, I.D. concept, is a future look that we want to drive right now. The Paris-debuted concept uses Wolfsburg’s MEB (Modular Electric Model) – VW Group’s new electric vehicle platform.Volkswagen claims that the concept puffs out just 168-horsepower electric motor with a range of 249 and 373 miles, while cruising from city to work.

Why We Want It
Similar in size to the e-Golf, the new four-seater accommodates large battery packs and electric motors, showcasing the electric drive technology and individual design lineage. It will be the underpinning for up to five new electric cars planned by Volkswagen. The overall look is clean and sophisticated, and it’s incredibly airy, too. It comes with a full-length panoramic glass roof that offers great views of the sky.

In concept form, the electric car with I.D. hatchback is pretty impressive. It’s fully autonomous, with laser scanners and cameras dotted stylishly around the exterior to help it find its way around. Should it detect a pedestrian, its headlights with multiple LEDs will let them know what’s going on as well. It also features an ultra-short front overhang, heavily raked windscreen, steeply rising hood line, large wheel houses with tyres that have 2.5 mms of special blue tread on them, cantilever-style rear doors, and what appears to be a full glass tailgate.

When the driver chooses the autonomous mode, the steering wheel collapses and retracts into the dashboard, freeing up space ahead of the driver. Even the central armrest can be removed completely or moved fore and aft, if it’s not needed. The only control you have to put it in the pedals, steering, and the gears that are controlled by touch-sensitive areas at the bottom of the small steering wheel.

Estimated Arrival and Price
The compact electric car will be on sale in 2020 and will cost around £22,000.

HONDA NEUV

What It Is
Ever yelled, loved, or cried to a car? Chances are you might not have. But did it ever reflect these emotions? Of course, not. Honda, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) elements, conceptualised this one-way emotional traffic by creating a car that can actually perceive human emotions and act accordingly. Wowza!

Why We Want It
While it may not be pretty to look at, the Honda NeuV (New Electric Urban Vehicle) is on our list because of what it stands for in the world of electric vehicles. Launched at the Geneva Motor Show this year, the Japanese automakers have designed a mini, city-oriented, and autonomous electric car where the owner can operate it as an automated ride-sharing vehicle when not in use, which means it can pick up and drop off customers at a destination. According to Honda, the car is also designed to suggest where to shop for specific needs, and even remembers one’s favourite places.  

Pronounced “new-vee”, riders will have full access to a panoramic windscreen, a touch-panel interface, and a sloping belt line designed to make manoeuvring simple. And the entry and exit is made easy, too, even in tiny parking spots, with a complete side panel that opens upwards to create a large opening. With two seats, a luggage space behind, and an electric skateboard, the design offers a glass roof and high profile in the inside, so it doesn’t feel as small as it looks from the outside.

Estimated Arrival and Price
Honda stresses that NeuV is just a concept and for now, and provides just a glimpse at what the eventual deployment could be, given expected advances in AI.

MERCEDES-BENZ VISION VAN

What It Is
Mercedes -Benz might be best known for creating drop-dead gorgeous luxury cars, or even for Gangster Mr. Eddy in the drama film Lost Highway. But the concept that has made it onto our list this year is actually a van – one that pretty much looks like a large bread box that comes with its own drones!

Why We Want It
The German carmaker claims that the van can be a revolutionary concept for urban areas by helping boost the efficiency of delivery by up to 50%. According to Mercedes, the Vision Van’s holistic system – which integrates numerous innovative technologies – sets the performance solutions and standards for future van generations. Equipped with a 75 kWh electric drive and a range of 80 to approximately 270 kms, the all-electric van comes complete with a fully automated cargo loading system and the ability to deploy self-driving robots and delivery drones to get parcels to customer’s doors faster. With speeds of up to 60 km/hr, heights of between 50 and 200 ms, and distances of up to 20 kms, the max load weight on the drones will be up to 2 kg, covering around 85% of all Amazon delivery parcels.

The face of the vehicle is defined by a wide windscreen that curves around to the sidewalls like a high-tech visor. However, the highlight of the vehicle is the signature radiator grille that comes with the integrated LED matrix. The interior, on the other hand, displays a sensual purity. It strips down highly complex technology to the bare essentials, and embodies a seamless transition characterised by the perfect combination of intelligence and emotion.

Estimated Arrival and Price
Apart of a €500 million revamp of the commercial vehicle division, Vision Van is likely to be out by 2020.

HYUNDAI MOBILITY VISION

What It Is
Hyundai has spawned some of the most amazing concept cars of the past few years, but none are better than the Mobility Vision. This one isn’t just a flight of digital fancy, but a mash-up of an autonomous vehicle with a smart home, where futuristic furniture moves seamlessly between both. Essentially, when not on the move, it allows the motorists to continue living without interruption by integrating its functionalities with the home. Revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the South Korean carmaker signalled the start of a new era by illustrating how autonomous technology could extend the public roads and permeate into our living spaces. According to Hyundai, “Our vision suggests how the car could shed the image of a conventional vehicle, integrating itself into the living space when docked, before becoming a mobile living space when customers need to move around.”

Why We Want It
Perfectly combining comfort, connectivity, and convenience, the transport pod or hyper-connected intelligent car is just another room in the house. The car’s interior is part of the home furniture collection, the driver’s seat becomes another mobility device that fetches its human cargo from the house and transports them back to the car.

The concept has other tricks up its sleeve, too. The mobility Vision shares its network and data with the car physically and virtually while on the road. It also enables its users to turn on the car’s air conditioning system to cool down their living room, and allows it to replace their home stereo with the car’s sound system. Since the car is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that generates electricity, the vehicle also serves as a backup generator in the event of a power outage.

Estimated Arrival and Price
Even though at present this is merely a concept and most likely not expected to reach production in the foreseeable future, Hyundai is investing a substantial amount of time into the development of these types of high-tech features.

DIVERGENT 3D BLADE

What It Is
A hit at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Divergent 3D Blade is just what the name implies: it’s a supercar built on a carbon fibre tubular chassis with aluminium NODES –3D printed joints – and provides a disruptive new approach to auto manufacturing.

Why We Want It
It’s fair to say that the Divergent 3D Blade was one of the biggest surprises dropped on the motoring press this year. Made by California–based start-up Divergent Microfactories – founded by Kevin Czinger – the platform aims to make it easier and faster to design new cars by reducing the cost, time-to-market, and the environmental impact that traditional factories have.

Since the world’s first 3D printed supercar is coupled with the use of carbon fibre rather than aluminium or steel, it reduces the chassis weight by 90% compared to an average car, and requires far less energy and material to produce. As a result, the whole vehicle weighs just 1,388 pounds. It also comes with a stroked 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and carries a 700 HP engine that runs on compressed natural gas – making it one of the most environment-friendly automobiles around. “A far greater percentage of a car’s total emissions come from the materials and energy required to manufacture it. How we make cars is actually a much bigger problem than how we fuel our cars. But, we’ve found a way to make automobiles that holds the promise of radically reducing the resource use and pollution generated by manufacturing,” Czinger explained at a speech at the O’Reilly Solid Conference. “It also holds the promise of making large-scale car manufacturing affordable for small teams of innovators. And as Blade proves, we’ve done it without sacrificing style or substance,” he explained.  

Estimated Arrival and Price
The announcement media kit doesn’t include a timeframe or pricing.

LEECO LESEE PRO

What It Is
One of the most intriguing concepts of 2016 from every angle, the LeEco LeSee PRO reteaches everything we thought we learned about car design. After debuting in Beijing in April 2016, the electric car made several appearances throughout the year, leading folks to speculate that LeEco is serious about ushering it to the market. But the Chinese automaker’s came up with a “more intelligent and more connected than the original” concept, and eventually showed face at Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in Las Vegas.

Why We Want It
In Vegas, the LeEco LeSee’s future seemed optimistic. The concept car aims to clear up the world’s smog problem, particularly in China. According to the company’s CEO, YT Jia, who is also a part of LeEco’s hardware/content ecosystem, “I have a very personal reason for building this electronic car. I want to clear up the smog problem in China and have a strong desire to bring back our blue skies.”

On the styling front, the front and back of the exterior changes into five distinct colours to inform pedestrians and other drivers when the car is being driven autonomously, is charging, sees a hazard, or is car-share ready. It also has illuminated wheels, Sci-fi-like front fascia, roof-mounted Lidar system, and a simple and seamless magnetic charging system that doesn’t use the traditional level-2 port. Instead, the cable needs to be attached to the area forward of the driver or passenger side door.

For the interior, LeEco has coated the interior panels in a unique tiered texture that extends from the floor and cuts off at the windows. The vehicle also uses innovative technologies to provide ultimate occupant comfort and convenience. And like the Volkswagen I.D. Concept, LeSee’s steering wheel can retract into the dashboard, giving the driver more room to consume all of its streaming entertainment content.

Estimated Arrival and Price
The autonomous electric vehicle is likely to be priced at between $150,000 to over $200,000 when it does go on sale.

RENAULT POM

What It Is
Renault’s concept-car based on Twizy ultra-compact EV was a surprise hit at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in Las Vegas. Touted as the world’s first open-source mass-market vehicle, Renault POM 45/80 (for Platform Open Mind), is an open-source automotive platform which is a lightweight and compact electric vehicle with bodywork parts removed. But the more pressing question is what does vehicle open source mean? Turns out not the vehicle, but the software it runs on is open source. So the vehicle’s core architecture, system components (the hardware), and shared design come in a box, and that its software is up for download. So you basically get a car, which will not be road-ready without some serious user input.

Why We Want It
Since partnering with OS Vehicle for open-source platform, the software which is available to private customers, researchers, independent laboratories, and start-ups. It allows third parties to modify existing hardware and software, provides engineering services, and on-demand design to create a bespoke electric vehicle to meet their needs.

The two-seater car has the same drive train as its predecessor– a rear-engine and rear-wheel-drive – and delivers quite a punch. It can be ordered both in 4 kW (5 hp) with a maximum speed of 45 km/hr (28 mph); or 13 kW (17 hp) with 80 km/hr (50 mph). It also provides a range up to 100 km and features a battery that is a 6.1 kWh lithium-ion weighing 100 kg.

Estimated Arrival and Price
While the vehicle still isn’t road-ready, the French manufacturer says that the electric car will soon be available to the public starting from £6,995.

BMW HOLOACTIVE TOUCH CONCEPT

What It Is
Given that BMW futuristic HoloActive Touch concept is not a concept car, but an infotainment creation–it looks so radically good that we feel it deserves an honourable mention on our list. Unveiled at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in 2017, the BMW Group provided a glimpse into the interior of the future with a selection of revolutionary technology and trailblazing concept that creates a floating graphic over the console.

Why We Want It
This may look like something out of science fiction, but the concept dash interface that uses HUD technology to create a whole new interior layout complete with haptic feedback is not so far-fetched. Combining touchscreens and tech similar to that of head-up displays with gesture control systems, the technology uses three main components: a camera, a projector, and a speaker to make the images appear to float in the air. All of the functions displayed on the screens in the centre console are right at the driver’s fingertips and can be controlled with no physical contact whatsoever. So the camera can track the driver’s hand, register its position, and detect when it comes into contact with one of the holographic projections.

So what distinguishes HoloActive Touch from existing HUDs? For one, it’s the fact that it uses reflections to create the illusion of a display floating in space rather than on the windshield. According to BMW, “Even though the HoloActive Touch concept acts like a virtual touchscreen, the technology still enables the visible and tangible driver-vehicle interaction familiar from conventional touchscreens.”

Estimated Arrival and Price
Even though HoloActive Touch is merely a concept, BMW is devoted to making this into a reality in the next few years.