Concept cars are a law unto themselves, and the rules are: there are no rules.
Motor shows are full of over-the-top, fantastical creations and, while some offer a glimpse into the future of personal transport, some are nothing but the physical manifestations of delusional designers and inventors.
The picture above is a teaser image, released ahead of the debut of the Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion, a concept car that is fully autonomous and luxury on wheels. Concept cars can be exciting… but they can also be a little scary.
Here are ten of the oddest concept cars we have encountered.
EDAG Light Cocoon – 2015 Geneva motor show:
Engineering and Design AG (EDAG) created this spectacular light-up vehicle with the help of a 3D printer. The aim was to make it as light as possible and you’ll notice its structural design has a webbed look, like the veins of a leaf or the wings of a bat.
The EDAG light Cocoon debuted at the 2015 Geneva motor show and stunned onlookers with its stretchy, waterproof material covering that weighs just 19 grams per square metre.
Under that skin, there are lights that give this car a coloured glow and make it eerily lifelike … or organ-like… or at least reminiscent of something from Avatar.
nanoFlowcell QUANTiNO – 2016 Geneva motor show
A revolutionary new way to generate power lies under the shell of the nanoFlowcell QUANTINO. It runs on electrolyte fuel – two tanks filled with fluid, one containing positively charged ionic liquid and the other negatively charged ionic liquid.
As the concoctions circulate around the system – without coming into contact – energy is generated in the form of an electric current. Could this herald a new evolution of the electric vehicle?
Hold the phone! What looks like a concept… actually isn’t. The 2016 QUANTiNO drove for 14-hours-straight in an endurance test, and was made legal for use on European roads in February this year. What a world.
BMW Vision Next 100 – 2016 Beijing motor show
BMW is celebrating 100 years, and as part of the festivities, the BMW Vision Next 100 was recently unveiled at Munich’s Olympic Hall. It also made an appearance at this month’s Beijing motor show.
The car maker describes the Vision Next 100 as an interpretation of the future of automobiles, complete with crazy ideas and features. There is a skin over the wheels that moves and flexes with steering inputs, the windscreen is a giant head-up display and there are two handles instead of a steering wheel.
The car physically changes – thanks to 800 moulded triangles that conform to different cabin styles – into a comfortable lounging area in autonomous driving mode or ‘Ease Mode’, and in normal drive mode or ‘Boost Mode’ an augmented-reality display on the windscreen will help guide you.
Toyota uBox – The Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exposure, North America
Hmmmm… at first glance this looks like a ’90s flashback, but the Toyota uBox was recently revealed during the The Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exposure event, and it could be on sale by 2020.
The uBox is the brainchild of engineers and designers from Toyota Motors North America, in cahoots with graduate students from Clemson University’s International Centre for Automotive Research. Its standout feature? Parts of the dash can be 3D printed, and seats can be removed to create more space.
Despite its chunky look, the team achieved an industry first, bonding composite carbon-fibre and aluminium.
Rinspeed sQuba – 2008 Geneva motor show
There just had to be some Rinspeed in this list.
The idea that one day a car will be capable of handling dry land and aquatic environments is not a new one. This pipe dream has kept keen minds fascinated for decades, the concept was even explored in the 1977 James Bond adventure ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’.
More than a few have achieved the feat, but few are what many would call attractive.
The idea was taken to the next level in 2008 when Rinspeed unveiled the sQuba. It can go from the road to the water, capable of being ‘driven’ underwater at a depth of up to 10 metres. The submersible sports car has electric motors and uses jet propulsion while immersed in the drink.
The driver and passenger will of course need to put on masks and pop the regulator mouthpiece in to breathe while cruising at three kilometres an hour in the Lotus Elise that has been gutted and rebuilt by Rinspeed.
Italdesign Machimoto – 1986 Turin motor show
Staying with some historical standouts, who could forget the Italdesign Machimoto. It’s what happens when someone has a few champers and decides that combining a car and a motorcycle is a great idea.
Truth be told, it looks more like a roller-coaster carriage than a car and caused quite a stir when it made its debut at the Turin motor show back in 1986.
This concept was built on the Volkswagen Golf platform of the time, and shares its mechanics. As you can see in the picture above, eight people are seated, lined-up one behind the other on motorcycle style seats. Who doesn’t want to straddle while car-pooling?
Can’t imagine why this didn’t go into production.
eRinGo electric concept car – Tehran, Iran in 2009
The eRinGo was designed by Iranian designer Mohammed Ghezel in 2009. The electric mode of transport can seat two people and balances on the larger central wheel while the two outer wheels keep it upright around corners.
There are two steering wheels that allow either rider to take control the vehicle, the alternate steering mechanism will lock up to prevent any confusion.
It’s certainly a different take on the automobile concept, and while we probably won’t ever see them on the streets, it looks like a lot of fun.
BMW Lovos – 2009 Frankfurt motor show
With 260 ‘scales’ that act as solar cells and an air brake, the BMW Lovos was designed by 24 year-old Anne Forschner who was a student at the German Pforzheim University.
Lovos, or Lifestyle of Voluntary Simplicity’ was born from a design exercise during her studies. It was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show.
1958 Ford Nucleon – 3/8-scale model
hank your lucky stars this atomic-automobile didn’t come to be. Back in the days of nuclear and atomic power exploration, there was hope that, much like computers, the reactors and associated encasements would reduce in size and weight. (Back to the Future‘s DeLorean, of course, imagined the same.)
The Ford Nucleon was a 3/8-scale model designed by Jim Powers that included a capsule at the rear to house a radioactive core.
Had it gone into large-scale production, you’d imagine that this mobile radiation-risk would likely have already destroyed the world, or possibly turned us all into the Incredible Hulk. We’ll never know. We’re all for thinking outside of the box, but looking back it’s a huge relief it was only a scale-model concept.
Chery FV2030 – 2016 Beijing Motor Show
Think Chery’s usual design language is a little underwhelming? Well the Chinese carmaker could be out to change that perception. The Chery FV2030 was unveiled at this year’s Beijing motor show and is a stylistically over-dramatised high-riding coupe, or perhaps a cross between a coupe and an SUV.
It has massive wheels, a single thin headlight, an all-electric drivetrain and a 3D holographic display.
There have been similar concepts over the past couple of years, including the Nissan Gripz, Subaru XV Conceptand Peugeot Quartz, and this trend could signal the start of a new type of futuristic crossover vehicle. One can only hope(?).