Friday, June 28, 2013

Future Technology - Car Design Concepts

Number 10 - Organically grown cars:
Biome, the new Mercedes-Benz concept, could merit an entire Top 10 feature itself.  We’ll limit ourselves to highlights, like its bio-fiber cloth body. The plan calls for panels harvested from organically-grown, genetically-modified trees. Cool stuff in theory, but even our horticultural illiterate imaginations question the ramp-up time and sheer volume needed for full production without depletion. Our guess is by 2050, adaptation could include trim pieces and limited body panels on existing models for better weight distribution and a lowered center of gravity.

Number 9 - Transparent instrument panels:
OLED technology is currently an expensive tech with unique applications, but as with most technology, the cost goes down exponentially with time. The Kia Pop concept takes a unique approach to the dashboard with a transparent OLED panel that gives a better range of vision (obviously - you can see through it) than other dashboards. This is the kind of technology that is usually exhibited on halo models first and then trickles down to mass-produced compacts and sedans. Given the rapid improvement in OLED technology, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this tech in new cars by 2015.

Number 8 - Electric rickshaw:
This seems the result of a Mercedes designer with Seinfeld on the brain. Kramer and Newman’s idea of the homeless pulling rickshaws has evolved into the Maybach DRS concept for personal transportation. We should probably be grateful it wasn’t based on "The Contest" episode. Anyway, this "urban sombrero" seems like a nice blend of personal city transportation and isolation. On the other hand, it would be a two-wheeled coffin if a taxi ran a red light and T-boned you. While corporate lawyers fret over this, don’t expect to see one before 2075.

Number 7 - Vegetable-based components:
Honda’s Air concept is not the only air-powered idea out there, but its vegetable-based body panels give new meaning to “organic design.” Reduced weight would be a major benefit, especially when combined with other weight-saving features like airless urethane tires and glass-reinforced seating panels. These would be great technologies to see on any Honda or Acura model, just probably not on the Air itself (too bad, because it looks like it’d be a blast to drive and the division desperately needs a sports car). If Honda can refine the practice for optimal strength and shape retention, we’d expect to see at least limited production use among existing vehicles by 2030.

Number 6 - Turbine-electric hybrid power:
Jaguar’s C-X75 super-car concept, like the marque’s current lineup, is stunning. What sets this car apart from the rest of the brand -- and most other automobiles -- is revolution in design. An electric motor is at each wheel, drawing from a central lithium-ion battery pack. The C-X75’s party pieces are twin gas turbines. Summon their power and Jaguar claims 3.4-second 0-60 mph blasts and a 205 mph top end. If they can find a way to dissipate the turbines’ massive heat without melting cars behind the C-X75 in traffic, we’d love this car or a green version of the XK to employ this tech by 2025.

Number 5 - Pure oxygen emissions:
Another future vehicle tech highlight of the spacey-but-cool Mercedes Biome is not what it has, but what it doesn't have: nasty emissions. In this case, all it spews back into the atmosphere is pure oxygen. It’s almost as if the trees used in the car’s body panel construction live on. As hopeful as we are -- and as much as they’d dig it in Los Angeles -- we can’t imagine it in production Benzes before 2050.

Number 4 - Energy-producing body panels:
The world is full of odd couples, incomprehensible pairings that somehow seem to work. Toyota believes enough in such matches that they’re putting their name on it: the Nori (Japanese for seaweed). And unlike Audi's unintended French double-entendre with the E-tron, Toyota’s naming is deliberate. Seaweed is used in the conjoined carbon fiber body/chassis, which is also embedded with solar panels. The combined body and chassis format is incredibly strong and light, and with the addition of the solar cells, actually generates supplemental power. We doubt the Nori will be parked next to Corollas in dealer showrooms, but we bet a derivative of this technology could reach future Prius models by 2020.

Number 3 - In-wheel magnetic drive system:
Future vehicle tech suggests tomorrow’s electric vehicles will feature multiple motors, even one at each wheel. Concepts like Jaguar’s aforementioned C-X75 have this, but the Nissan iV is unique. Look beyond the spider silk and ivy composite body (hence, the iV name) and witness the concentric hub-less motors in each wheel. This patented Nissan technology also handles steering and suspension duties. Weight and moving parts are cut down in the process -- very good things indeed. The 2035 street-date mentioned in the vehicle description seems plausible for the feature, even if the iV itself does not.

Number 2 - Interchangeable carbon fiber body panels:
Co-winner of the L.A. Auto Show Design Challenge with the Cadillac Aera, the Smart 454 WWT (Weight Watch Technologies) overplayed the cutesy card with endless references to their Smart Granny Robots (SGRs) knitting the carbon fiber body and chassis. Carbon fiber itself is not new, though you’ll pay dearly for a car with any significant amount. Smart aims to make it affordable and features interchangeable body panels to reconfigure the car as needed or desired. If Smart survives and crash testing passes, we bet this could be yours by 2020.

Number 1 - Air propulsion:
There’s nothing wrong with making internal combustion engines more efficient, and efforts to advance EVs are commendable too. Cadillac (yes, Cadillac) goes further still with air propulsion, as proffered on the Aera (Aero + Era). The 2+2 lightweight won the L.A. Auto Show Design Challenge, due in no small part to its style and air propulsion, leading to a theoretical range of 1000 miles on compressed air before refueling. As much as we love today’s hedonistic CTS-V cars, we’d really love to try a Cadillac with the Aera’s future vehicle tech by 2030.

Source: Askmen


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