Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Funky Fresh: The Weirdest Concept Cars of the Year

Tokyo and Geneva tend to be havens for concept vehicles one might politely call unique. The more deranged and/or forward-thinking among us might consider them the best surprises on the yearly global auto-show circuit. Some, like Honda’s MotoGP-powered 2&4 raceabout look like hilarious high-speed fun, while others, like Toyota’s mechariffic Kikai and Honda’s TARDIStastic WanderStand suggest deranged imaginations at work.--When autumn brings the SEMA show to the Las Vegas Convention center, the results tend to careen from the sublime to the horrific. Click on to meander through a garden of wheeled strangeness. Everything from a Peugeot with a thumpin’ system to a truncated, stylized VW Microbus is contained within. We’d suggest donning your khaki shorts, knee-high socks, and a pith helmet for this one.Back when concept cars used to be called “dream cars,” they often represented not just way-out styling but also wacky thinking. This year’s Geneva auto show has its share of concept cars, but the Torq, by the Italian engineering and design company ED, is one that ascends to the level of dream car. And a fevered dream it is.A true, blue-sky dream car needs a suitably ambitious mission statement. Here’s ED’s: “Our goal is to deliver fully functional, entirely open source, autonomous ‘mobile laboratories’ with our friends at OEMs, tier one suppliers, IT companies, research institutes, and universities, allowing them to experiment with all kinds of new apps to improve all aspects of the quality of life related to the future of assisted mobility.” Check. READ MORE ››What’s EDAG, you ask? It is a German company that specializes in engineering. What’s a Light Cocoon? That’s the rather novel solution EDAG thought up to advance the lightweighting of cars. Obviously. The curious-looking vehicle (which is EDAG’s 16th concept car—here’s one from 2000 and another from 2007) will glow from a display at the 2015 Geneva auto show.As is the rage these days, EDAG’s car features a 3D-printed structure and is said to be very lightweight, saving something like 25 percent versus those of traditional vehicles. As isn’t the rage in any time period, the Light Cocoon concept’s structure is bionically inspired and features an organic-looking, lattice-like passenger cage. A skin made from an outdoor clothing company’s waterproof jersey fabric is stretched over the hard bits, and EDAG stuffed a bunch of LED lights under it so that the cellular chassis is on full display (which doesn’t sound like a weight-saving measure to us). READ MORE ››A couple of weeks back, we dissected Honda’s teaser image and text of its Frankfurt concept, the 2&4. Now, on the eve of Europe’s biggest auto show of the year, Honda has released full images and a bit more information. Claiming influence from the pivotal RA272 Formula 1 car from 1965—the machine that gave Honda its first Grand Prix win—the 2&4 is a little more sedate than the V-12–powered monster of 50 years ago.After all, the 2&4 only features one-third the cylinder count yet revs to the same 14 grand. The 2&4 is, however, incredibly light, tipping the scales at just 892 pounds. Which, we might note, is less than a modern GL1800 Gold Wing. Like the Wing, however, the 2&4 features a motorcycle engine, in this case, plucked from the all-the-tech RC213V-S. Based on Marc Márquez’s MotoGP bike, the hyperlimited, $185,000 motorcycle makes close to 160 horsepower in stock trim for non-U.S. markets. READ MORE ››Peugeot’s pushing its i-Cockpit infotainment system with the Fractal concept, but since we haven’t had Peugeots in the United States since before “infotainment” was a word, it’s a little lost on us. Regardless, the thing the system is wrapped in is pretty neat-looking—sort of an alt-Cooper Convertible with a hint of Gallic menace in place of Mini’s wide-eyed Anglo-whatsitness.Powered by a 40-kWh battery pack pushing 101-hp electric motors at each axle, Peugeot claims the Fractal has a range of 280 miles. To maximize efficiency, it runs on narrow wheels, à la BMW i3. In an effort to cut down on wind noise, said wheels are 3D printed—the company says that the required design would be impossible to produce by conventional means. READ MORE ››The moment this trippy Volkswagen bus caught our eye on SEMA’s show floor, we knew right away it was bound for our Best of SEMA, Day One list. How could it not be? But whereas in those best-of lists we’ve got to share space with some of SEMA’s other glorious creations, in this space we can do the stubby VW long-form justice.This custom van, dubbed “Surf Seeker,” was fabricated nearly from scratch by Utah-based Ron Berry, with finishing work completed by SKJ Customs. The only components sourced from an actual VW bus include the front suspension, rear transaxle, and the basics of its flat-four engine. Everything else, from the full-metal body to the interior to the rest of the chassis was dreamt up out of thin air. It’s all very impressive, and not least because the creator eschewed the implied ease of a custom VW by choosing not to retain the bus’s ubiquitous (and adaptable) floorpan. READ MORE ››Pop-culture raconteur Eddie Huang has designed a one-off Scion iA, and it’s pretty much the exact opposite of what you might expect it to be. Designed for display at the 2015 SEMA show, Huang’s iA sidesteps the tired tuner theme, instead going for a classic, gold-hued, West Coast lowrider vibe, albeit rendered in 7/10ths scale.Huang, a self-described “human panda” who dabbles as an attorney, author (Fresh Off The Boat), comic, chef, and restauranteur, among other things, clearly wishes to make the underachievers of the world feel even more despondent. READ MORE ››There are fancy trucks, and there are fancy trucks. And for the 2015 SEMA show, Toyota has stretched the fancy-truck concept—literally—in the form of the gargantuan, aptly named “Tundrasine.”Based on the luxurious, Texas-themed Tundra 1794 Edition, the Tundrasine is rendered in Midnight Black and stretches more than 26 feet in length, including a near-20-foot wheelbase—long enough to comfortably park a Bentley Mulsanne between the axles. To fill the extra space, Toyota added four more doors, for a total of eight. Opening any one of them grants access to a brown, leather-lined interior said to draw inspiration from private jets. READ MORE ››Our favorite bizarre-cars auto show, the biennial Tokyo event, kicks off later this month, and on the heels of the odd stuff from Honda, Suzuki, and others comes Toyota’s odd stuff. The steampunk Kikai [above] joins the FCV Plus hydrogen-fuel-cell concept and the Margaret Keane–like Kirobo robot/friend. Let’s take a closer look.Whereas Toyota’s currently available fuel-cell vehicle, the Mirai, was hit with an ugly stick, the FCV Plus is a futuristic machine as might have been imagined around the time of the original iMac. Toyota says the FCV Plus would fit right into “a sustainable society in which hydrogen energy is in widespread use.” READ MORE ››Tiny, box-shaped vanlets are everywhere in Japan—including, naturally, the Tokyo auto show. The genre is taken to its zenith, however, by the Daihatsu Noriori concept.The Noriori’s theme actually is accessibility. Casterlike wheels make for an ultralow ride height, while deployable ramps allow for the loading of a wheelchair through either the side-hinged rear door or the dual sliding side doors. READ MORE ››Not to take away Japan’s achievements with regular automobiles, but the bizarre sub-automotive machines are our favorite things to see at the biennial Tokyo auto show. With this year’s Tokyo event less than a month away, we’re getting an early look at two such oddities Honda plans to debut there.No stranger to, uh, the strange, Honda is following up side projects such as Asimo the soccer-playing robot, the Uni-Cub, and others with the WanderStand and the WanderWalker. Both are concepts, and they’re sort of like cars in that they have wheels and Honda badges. READ MORE ››Over its past few occurrences, the biennial Tokyo auto show seemed to be dropping off the radars of many international carmakers, losing out to the auto shows in China. But now it's back, thanks to a beautiful venue and a Japanese auto industry that is regaining its strength. A good measure of a show's importance is the effort carmakers put into bringing specifically designed concept cars. And as far as boldness goes, this angry-looking pod that Mercedes-Benz has designed for Tokyo is definitely on the brash end of the scale.Dubbed an "homage to the urban Generation Z" (people born since 1995), the Vision Tokyo Concept seems to be as much an homage to a bread box. It's a whole lot bigger, though: At a length of 189.1 inches, a height of 63.0 inches, and a width of a full 82.7 inches, Daimler's concept is impressively large. READ MORE ››At the other end of the spectrum, thematically, from its Vision 2020 Gran Turismo, Nissan at Tokyo also will display a quirky, electric concept car that purports to redefine transportation for a digital Japanese generation. Bizarrely dubbed Teatro for Dayz—a name that blends the Italian word for theater (teatro) and a current Nissan minicar—the EV concept was designed not so much for driving, but for occupants interested in creating, connecting, and sharing.Nissan describes the target for the Teatro for Dayz as the new generation that went straight from the cradle to digital technology as “share natives.” The company is worried that, despite the fact these youngsters will reach driving age in a few years, they show little interest in cars. READ MORE ››
from Car and Driver Blog http://www.caranddriver.com/flipbook/the-weirdest-concepts-of-the-year-2015


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