Concept cars are a fun way for automotive makers to let out their creative side. Designers put together cars they would like to see come to existence at some point, or where they would like to see the industry head. They can often include features that a company and its designers are thinking of including in models coming out in the next year.
More often than not though, they can include some very complicated innovations that probably cannot hit the market in the immediate year. Still, it’s an interesting way to see the priorities of companies and the shifting nature of the industry. CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show, is where all of the big names go to reveal their latest technological innovations. 2017 was a great year for the automotive industry; the rise of digitization in recent years has clearly left its mark on designers. Here are some concept cars that shook 2017:
Fiat Chrysler unveiled a car at CES that from the outside looked a bit boxy and awkward. However, the inside was revolutionary. The car is powered electronically, and it has a range of 250 miles before it needs to be powered up. Within 20 minutes, it can gain back half of the charge it lost. While this may not be as fast as a traditional gas vehicle, the cost savings opportunity from switching to full electric make it an attractive option for eco-conscious and price savvy millennials. The car also includes Level 3 autonomous driving. This means that in large urban cities, it has self-driving capabilities. At this stage though, it still needs to be overseen by someone.
Rinspeed showed their Oasis car at the show, which lives up to its name. The car has a literal garden inside, equipped with bonsai trees and radishes right behind the windshield. While adorable, that is not the only feature the car offers. Inside, there is a touch screen that is voice and gesture activated, with a warning display that comes up on the dashboard, if there is an obstacle ahead. Rinspeed hopes to see this car become integrated into the ridesharing market.
Honda debuted the NeuV car this year. The car is electric and self-driving, but also uses artificial intelligence to read the emotions of passengers. Honda hopes to integrate it into the ride sharing market, someday replacing drivers themselves. As for the emotion reading technology, they hope to use this technology enhance consumer experience once the cars are full functional.
Volkswagen took its classic microbus and turned it full electric. This electric version has a mileage range of 270 miles before it needs to recharge. Through radar, cameras, and sensors, they also managed to make it self-driving. The car can be opened from the outside using an app on your phone, and also comes with a tablet for the car which can be removed at any point.
Toyota unveiled a car with a nifty artificially intelligent companion for driving. The software is called Yui, and she can engage you in conversation and keep you awake while driving. That is not all Yui is good for, however. She can also help drivers complete tasks as they drive. But it’s all done keeping in mind consumer safety. Instead of a touch screen, there is voice interaction and a heads up display. And to add a little flare, the car also has scissor doors and lights that can wink at users.
BMW designed a self-driving car that basically looks like the inside of someone’s living room. With spacious leather seats and a television, users can sit back and be driven where they need to go in style. In addition to the television (which of course can be hooked up to video games), there is a bookshelf built into the side of the car. The inside of the car is controlled by finger gestures, automated through a HoloActive Touch system. HoloActive Touch system is a user interface designed by BMW. There is no need to touch anything to power it up. Riders choose if they want to go into self-driving mode, and the steering wheel folds away. Otherwise, they can drive it as any other normal car.
Nissan came out with its VMotion at the Detroit Auto Show. In addition to scissor doors, the car comes with a self-driving “Pro-pilot” feature that allows the car to drive up to 62 miles per hour on the highway. The display in the middle is a long horizontal display that puts together both information used by the driver as well as any entertainment features the car may have.
Concept cars are getting more creative as time goes on, with features that are both entertaining and functionally useful. It’s clear that industry giants have their eyes on the possibilities opened up by the technology boom. As the Internet of Things gets more complex and the environment pushes consumer priorities, companies are pressed to take up many of these creative initiatives.