Revealed: Best concept cars of 2016
The first concept car dates back to 1938, when General Motors created the Buick Y-Job to show the public the future of motors (at the time, electric windows and concealed headlamps). Now, they are the best way to see what some of the biggest automakers on earth think will be hitting the roads in the near future…
1. Mercedes-Benz IAA
\nThe IAA is an experiment in aerodynamics and electronics. The idea behind it is to have a car that physically changes dimensions at faster or slower speeds. Bring the IAA up to 75-kilometres or faster, and the tail extends. The bumper area can stretch almost half a metre, lowering its drag coefficient to just 0.19, far lower than any production car in existence today (the Ferrari 458 reaches 0.33). Instead of mirrors, cameras housed in the car's side inlets further limiting the car's drag profile. The car also features Car-to-X technology, which will automatically take control if it sense a collision with cars or road-side objects (this technology has already made it in to the latest version of the E-Class sedan). Designers made use of 3D modelling to create the car's unique shape. It's powered by a plug-in hybrid motor, producing speeds of almost 450-kilometres per hour. Mercedes-Benz has said the IAA will not go in to production looking like it does now. More likely, its features will continue to trickle-down in to new versions.
2. Porsche Mission E
\nThe Mission E is completely electric supercar with a range just shy of 500-kilometres. It's powered by two engine trains that put out more than 600-horsepower, and will propel the Mission E from zero to a hundred in less than 3.5 seconds. The tech comes from Porsche's Le Mans-winning 919 hybrid racer, while the looks come straight from the design department of the 918 Spyder. Concept cars are always heavy on the tech, and the Mission E is no different. There's an eye-tracking system in the cabin that uses cameras to tell which dashboard instrument you are looking at. Then – with a push of a button on the steering wheel – the car will present an additional menu of information and statistics. Maps and entertainment will be projected on to a holographic centre panel, with menus controlled via hand gesture. Porsche is also introducing Turbo Charging technology. The Mission E will be able to go from empty to 80 percent full of juice in just 15-minutes. Porsche has said that while the Mission E is a concept for now, it wants to put it in to production before the end of the decade.
3. BMW Vision 100
\nThe most 'out-there' concept is the Vision 100. It's what you get when you cross a supercar with a lizard. Meant to showcase future materials, the wheels move under an exoskeleton that's part of the main chassis, for better suspension. The car can be driven in both manual and full autonomous mode, complete with retractable steering wheel. If you do feel like taking the wheel however, augmented reality will give drivers the ideal driving line when turning corners, while also flashing up alerts on the windshield if a pedestrian walks out front of you. Seats and doors swivel out and click in to a single unit – meaning you can re-align the seating so that driver and passenger can face each other (when it autonomous mode). Squint, and you can still make out the BMW DNA within – the kidney-shaped grill, for example. Like current models of the BMW i8 and i3, the chassis of the Vision will be made primarily out of recycled materials.
4. Audi H-Tron Quattro
\nThe 'H' stands for hydrogen, and shows off Audi's dedication to exploring the alternative fuel source. The all-wheel drive crossover has hydrogen fuel cells under the hood, providing enough electricity to power a 90kW electric motor on the front axil, and a 140kW version on the rear. The result are speeds up to 440-kilometres per hour, with a range over 600-kilometres before needing a hydrogen top up. While electric cars are all the rage, many motor firms are exploring the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source. BMW and General Motors have previously tested concepts, and Hyundai and Toyota began selling hydrogen-powered production cars in the United States last year (the lack of hydrogen fuel stations in many cities gives them a limited appeal). The H-Tron autonomous driving technology too, with self-parking technology and a system that can take the wheel and stop-and-go in traffic jams. The H-Tron might go in to production, but Audi has speculated it will be limited and only available where hydrogen fuel stations are prevalent (mainly in the state of California). The autonomous technologies are set to appear in its A8 sedan in 2017.