The Future Of DrivingWhat are cars going to be like in the future?
While it's impossible to truly know what the future holds, we can at least get an idea of what's in store by taking a close look at the concept vehicles that automakers spend untold millions of dollars researching, designing and building, each and every year. Such concepts offer a preview into the upcoming years and decades, and in the case of the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the future looks exciting.
A few distinct themes have become clear in recent years: In the future, you may not drive your car... your car may actually be the one driving you. Further, the well-known gasoline-powered internal combustion engine's years appear numbered, as electric motors and batteries are likely to become more and more common.
Follow along as we take a look into the not-too-distant future with these 10 concept cars from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
Aston Martin DBX Concept
Created to defy conventional thinking about the luxury GT segment, the DBX Concept widens the appeal of the iconic British luxury brand and reaches out to a more diverse global audience than ever before.
Unveiling the concept, Aston Martin CEO Dr Andy Palmer said: "The DBX Concept is a challenge to the existing status quo in the high luxury GT segment. It envisages a world, perhaps a world not too far away, when luxury GT travel is not only stylish and luxurious but also more practical, more family-friendly and more environmentally responsible.
"I asked my team at Aston Martin to expand their thinking beyond conventions, to explore what the future of luxury GT motoring would look like in years ahead, and the DBX Concept you see before you is the result."
Dr Palmer added: "This is, clearly, not a production-ready sports GT car, but it is a piece of fresh, bold thinking about what Aston Martin GT customers around the world could request of us in the future.
"The DBX Concept is more than a thought starter for us and for our customers, though. We will, in due course, be entering a car into the new DBX space and I am very much looking forward to seeing how this concept is received not only here today, but also by our legion of existing loyal customers and by those potential customers around the world who have, to this point, yet to consider one of our cars."
Audi Prologue Avant
A glance into the future: the Audi prologue Avant
Progressive elegance, high variability and high-end technology with a length of 5.11 meters (16.8 ft): The large five-door car with its stretched roof continues with the design language that Audi has initiated with its coupé study, the prologue, giving a look into the future.
“With our show car for Geneva, we now translate the design language of the Audi prologue into a new, dynamic and stretched form. We are merging it with a concept of high variability”, says Board Member for Technical Development, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg. “The Audi prologue Avant is progressive, emotion-filled and versatile, it reflects Audi’s technological competence and quality claim perfectly.”
The brand with the four rings stands for sportiness, lightweight construction and the permanent all-wheel-drive quattro. The Audi prologue Avant brings progressive technology into a new form. The large five-door car with its stretched roof and extremely flat D-pillars combines power and flowing elegance. Its design reflects the Audi quattro genes.
In the interior, as well, the show car captivates the driver with innovative solutions – the architecture forms a new whole with its display and control concept. The driver and the passengers are digitally connected with one another. The continuous front of the dashboard consists of three touch displays, a major part of control and communication between the driver and the co-driver as well as passengers in the rear is realized by two OLED‑displays (Organic Light Emitting Diodes).
The Audi prologue Avant uses the plug-in hybrid drive of the Audi Q7 e-tron quattro at a higher development level. The 3.0 TDI engine and the electric motor together output 335 kW (455 hp) of system performance and 750 Nm (553.2 lb-ft) of system torque. With this performance, the show car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 5.1 seconds. The dynamic all-wheel-drive steering system with which the rear wheels can be inclined by up to five degrees provides good handling and high drive stability.
Infiniti QX30 Concept
Infiniti has revealed the stylish and highly capable QX30 Concept, the design vision that will inspire a new premium compact crossover.
Making its debut at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show, the QX30 Concept cements Infiniti's ambitions to expand into the global premium compact segment, which is forecast for significant growth with the entry of younger affluent customers.
Combining the sleek lines of the coupe with the command sitting and all-wheel drive of a crossover, the QX30 Concept is just as adept at navigating high street as it is exploring weekend getaways.
"QX30 Concept foreshadows an entry in the premium compact segment that provides a stylish alternative to the existing offer in this segment," said Roland Krueger, Infiniti President and CEO. "The vehicle embodies our conviction to give customers the freedom to go wherever they want, whenever they want – in a style that turns heads and makes a statement, in a way that expresses their individualized character."
Italdesign Giugiaro GEA
For the 85th edition of the Geneva International Motor Show, Italdesign Giugiaro presents the world début of GEA, the future of luxury mobility.
GEA's vision is based on the "Piloted Driving" technology outlook for the future: technological advancement, which allows cars to drive increasingly autonomously, will call in the future for a new idea of automobile. The conceptual center of gravity shifts ideally from the driver's seat, around which the car's architectural and ergonomic philosophy is usually developed, to the passengers in the rear seats. Once the car drives autonomously through city traffic, on the motorway and in all those situations when driving is simply not a pleasure, it allows the occupants to focus on other tasks or interests.
"In the near future, the real luxury will be time," comments Wolfgang Egger, Head of Styling Area of Italdesign Giugiaro. "When designing GEA we thought of the businessmen and businesswomen of tomorrow: the time spent travelling will become productive even in a car. With the three internal setting configurations, which can be selected on the control sphere situated between the two front seats, the car can turn into a travelling office, a wellness or a dream area. This is our vision of luxury mobility for the future".
GEA doesn't sacrifice sports performance levels, guaranteed by a power train which, thanks to the four electric motors fitted on the differentials, develops 570 kW of power and affords a top speed of 250 km/h.. With its generous proportions – 5.37 meters long, a wheelbase of 3.33 meters, 1.98 m wide and 1.46 meters high – GEA joins the luxury saloon segment.
GEA was designed, engineered and built at the Italdesign Giugiaro headquarters in Moncalieri.
Lexus LF-SA Concept
Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the very first Lexus, the LS400 saloon. To celebrate this milestone, Lexus challenged ED2, its European design studio, to create a concept of an ultra-compact (sub-B-segment) urban 2+2 model.
The LF-SA Concept explores unexpected territory for the brand in a powerful, emotional execution that illustrates Lexus's passion for up-coming design trends.
The LF-SA Concept is also a driver-focused vehicle, reflecting Lexus's vision that in a future world where technology and virtual experiences are expected to hold more sway, the real driving experience could become the ultimate luxury.
Taking that insight as inspiration, the new concept presents an audacious interpretation of Lexus's L-finesse design philosophy, while never losing sight of the requirement for driving pleasure – a quality that will always be a defining element of Lexus's progressive luxury.
The LF-SA Concept captures the freedom of weekend escapes in everyday city driving, exploring a future in which Lexus drivers will still be able to enjoy the real-life luxury of driving themselves, while at the same time benefiting from the last word in on-board connectivity, infotainment and safety.
Even the colour scheme reflects a spirit of adventure: the Stellar Silver exterior finish is a reference to space exploration and the interior is inspired by the spectacle of a solar eclipse.
Magna Steyr MILA Plus
Magna International Inc. debuted the MILA Plus, an innovative two-seat hybrid sports car at Geneva Motor Show 2015. The concept vehicle, which will be displayed at Magna's booth #6261 in Hall 6, combines a sophisticated, lightweight construction with an intelligent, alternative-drive solution to produce maximum performance as well as eco-friendliness. With an all-electric range of 75km and a vehicle weight of 1,520kg, MILA Plus achieves reduced CO2 emissions of 32g/km.
"Magna's broad range of services – from engineering to diverse product capabilities to full-vehicle contract manufacturing – helps support our customers as they continue to be challenged with the changing dynamics of the automotive industry. The MILA Plus vehicle concept illustrates our value proposition and advantage within the global supply base," emphasized Günther Apfalter, President Magna Europe and Magna Steyr.
As the latest vehicle concept in the MILA innovation family, MILA Plus features advanced technologies and flexible manufacturing processes with a focus on eco-friendliness.
nanoFlowcell Quant F Concept
"We see the flow-cell technology as the most promising technology with the greatest potential for the future of sustainable electromobility without harmful emissions. It offers an enormous range as well as exceptional performance. For us it represents the best alternative to battery-powered or fuel cell-powered electric vehicles. The flow-cell drive system eliminates many of the disadvantages inherent in existing drive systems and it is also more cost-effective. In our view, the flow cell is the future of electromobility," said Nunzio La Vecchia after the two world premieres presented by nanoFlowcell AG.
The new QUANT F is an impressive demonstration of the fact that enormous performance and environmental sustainability do not have to be mutually exclusive in the automotive field: a complete re-design of its predecessor QUANT E, the electric vehicle equipped with nanoFlowcell® technology can reach speeds of more than 300 km/h - full electric and without harmful emissions, it has a range of up to 800 km. With its new 2-speed automatic transmission, the 5.25-metre e-sports sedan weighing in at 2.3 tonnes and capable of carrying four people can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in only 2.8 seconds.
Nissan Sway Concept
Innovative design and product planning gave birth to the Qashqai and Juke, two of the biggest automotive success stories in recent years. Now the company has applied the same radical thinking to one of the most important sectors of the market: the compact hatchback.
Unveiled at the Geneva Show, the Sway is a glimpse at how a future generation of compact Nissan models might look if the company's striking new design language was applied to a European hatchback. It is a concept car designed especially to appeal to European tastes: it is seen as emotional, edgy and exciting.
Sway has been designed to shake up the compact hatchback segment, traditionally a conservative sector of the market. With its swooping lines, striking nose, elegantly simple interior and bold use of sophisticated colors, the concept is a daring and emotional design.
There is an overall sense of unity and harmony... but with edginess unexpected in this market segment. The interior, for example, applies techniques more usually seen in industrial architecture such as structural aluminum elements to signify both simplicity and strength, but also the attention to detail and use of color and materials associated with premium goods.
Rinspeed Budii Concept
The vision of autonomous driving will soon become reality and will fundamentally change the interaction of man and automobiles. While the research centers of the automotive industry are still feverishly working on the technical solutions, progressive thinkers such as the Swiss idea factory Rinspeed are already giving concrete thought to how automated private transport will transform the car and the man-machine system. Besides fundamental conceptual changes, this will also have to involve issues of ethics and society.
In the past, the robots in the factories of this world merely assembled cars for people. In the new "Budii" concept car from Swiss automotive visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht the machine now literally reaches out to man: if the occupants of the autonomously driving electric vehicle feel like having some fun at the wheel on a twisty country road or off road, a robotic arm will hand the steering wheel to the driver of front passenger as desired, thereby transferring command. The sensitive 7-axis unit from Augsburg-based market leader is more than merely a steering column, however. In theory, it will make endless adjustment options possible: for example, during automated driving in the daily commute it parks the steering wheel in the center with minimum space requirements or it serves as a table or attentive personal valet. This is made possible by the unique and multi-redundant "steer-by-wire" technology from Paravan.
For the automotive idea factory Rinspeed the robotic arm in "Budii" is a symbol and food for thought at the same time. Rinspeed-Boss Rinderknecht puts it as follows, referring to a joint study with consulting firm EY: "The autonomously driving car will require more than solving technical problems and legal issues in the next two decades. We not only have to redefine the interaction of man and machine, but must also raise questions about responsibility, tolerances and expectations." According to Rinderknecht, autonomous driving will undoubtedly offer the opportunity to make traffic more people-friendly and reduce the number of traffic accidents worldwide. "But even the best technology will not be perfect, albeit less prone to error than humans. That is something we will have to accept," says the boss of the Swiss powerhouse of automotive ideas Rinspeed. "We should not develop a blind, but rather a healthy trust in the new capabilities of the hardware and software."
"In the future, cars will do just as we do: they will keep learning every day, and as a result will get better and better at mastering the complex challenges of modern-day private transport." To this end, "Budii" will take information from its surroundings, its own "experiences" and those of other vehicles along its route into consideration. The long-term result will be a cognitive and intuitive autopilot. The Swiss company will demonstrate what such a "friend on wheels" could look like with the trans-urban SUV "Budii" at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
Its entirely new operating and display system features a host of innovative entertainment, safety and service functions, and is based on the next-generation scalable platform from Harman, the world market leader in infotainment systems. The technologies of Rinspeed's long-time main partner integrate all features of the RoboCar and quasi bring "Budii" to life. The system independently identifies the habits and preferences of the driver, and consequently reduces the necessary operating steps to a minimum. In this way, the car turns into a learning and proactive companion. The Harman audio division supplies the premium sound system of the Harman Kardon brand, letting "Budii" indulge its passengers with music in best HD quality.
The HMI design was created by Luxoft, the lightweight-construction aluminum frame for the central display by Georg Fischer Automotive. NXP with its intelligent networking technologies provides the secure connection of the car and its occupants to the outside world. This includes radar and 'Vehicle-to-X' solutions as well as automatic payment for parking via NFC, cell phone charging by means of wireless power charging, clever access solutions, and a keyless entry remote for unlocking, starting and customizing the vehicle. In addition, solid state lighting products provide the proper LED lighting on the vehicle.
In keeping with a long-standing tradition, the electrically powered eye-catcher based on the BMW "i3" was engineered by Swiss company 4erC. The technical implementation was in the hands of Esoro, which also put "Budii" on sporty 19-inch 8-twin-spoke alloys from Borbet. The technical goodies include an air suspension with a ride-height adjustment range of 100 mm, which will ensure that fun escapes from daily routine will continue to be possible in the future. A telescoping laser scanner from Hamburg-based Ibeo Automotive Systems on the roof called "TrackView" can be raised by 70 centimeters and delivers a precise 3D perspective by means of sensor fusion. In concert with a high-resolution camera from Kappa optronics it maps the terrain. As a result, the ride height and suspension of the vehicle are adjusted accordingly. What's more: it also makes it possible for the driver to identify and avoid potential obstacles at an early stage, and even have the vehicle do so autonomously. As a special gem for mobility on the final stretch to the destination, the development engineers have incorporated two electric two-wheel mini vehicles that are housed conveniently in retractable automatic drawers on either side of the vehicle.
Comfortable access to the interior is provided by the innovative electric door opening and closing system from technology leader Kiekert, while privacy during autonomous driving is ensured by a folding fan system from Zypalis whose leaves can be custom-printed. Front and rear multifunction panels from Swiss company Weidplas integrate turn signals, brake lights and tail lights. They also use ambient light effects and communication elements to stay in contact with other road users. The integrated fiber optics and semi-transparent covers of these panels are made from PMMA supplied by specialist chemical group Evonik, and attached using Sika bonding and sealing materials.
The fact that electric vehicles can also be sexy and emotionally charged - in Rinspeed's view even have to be in order to sell better - is proven by "Budii's" bright anthracite paint finish with sparkler effect. In the interior, designed jointly by Hornschuch and Strähle+Hess, silver-colored and midnight-blue "skai" surfaces as well as the cognac-colored textile with signal-orange highlights in edging and band create a feel-good lounge atmosphere. The floor carpets and floor mats were supplied by Racemark Industries, the innovative rear shelf made from thermoplastics by Schoeller Spinning Group. The finishing touches for the entire interior decoration were added by the firm of Mansory. Removable Plexiglas worktables allow relaxed working during autonomous driving.
The air outlets with ambient lighting in the dashboard, the wellness shower in the headliner and the center console with cup holders and stowage compartments for cell phones complete with inductive charging function come from Dr. Schneider Group. A particularly efficient electric heating system from Eberspächer ensures cozy warmth in the interior. It also provides pre-heating of the battery and ensures a convenient auxiliary heater function. In keeping with the times, the system is controlled via smartwatch or smartphone.
The look through the steering wheel reveals the world's most intelligent watch winder. That is another trick "Buddie's" robotic arm has up its sleeve, proving it truly is a friend of the driver: it uses ingenious motions to wind the movement of the classy and technically sophisticated "Manero PowerReserve" watch from Lucerne-based watchmaker Carl F. Bucherer as soon as the high-resolution Kappa camera in the interior recognizes that the power reserve displayed on the watch face is about to be depleted. Well yes, sometimes they are also a little bit playful at the Swiss think tank and mobility lab Rinspeed.
VW Sport Coupé Concept GTE
Volkswagen will debut the Sport Coupé Concept GTE at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show, heralding a new and progressive Volkswagen design language. "Evolution and revolution come together in the Sport Coupé Concept GTE. This concept is based on Volkswagen design DNA, which has been visibly sharpened even more. It shows how the highest-volume brand of our Group is shaping the immediate future," says Walter de Silva, Head of Design of Volkswagen AG.
Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Volkswagen Brand Board Member for Development, elaborates: "This breathtakingly dynamic coupé is unlike any other to appear in this class. The design of the Sport Coupé Concept GTE is an impressive alternative to the classic sedans of the B and C segments-it has the style of a sport coupé that is enriched by the functionality of a large hatchback and the interior space of a sedan." Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design of the Volkswagen Brand, adds: "The Sport Coupé Concept GTE is another milestone of expressive design. With this concept car, Volkswagen is not only showing a new model's design, but also initial glimpses of a new design era."
The interior of the Sport Coupé Concept GTE is as innovative as its exterior. It features extremely clean design, matchless ergonomics and new interactive interfaces between human and machine-including the use of the driver's biometric data and a new Active Info Display that has a 3D appearance. The upshot is an avant-garde interior ambience that is in complete harmony with its expressive exterior design.
Under the skin, the car is also very innovative. The GTE designation promises a plug-in hybrid drive system and that's what this concept delivers. Volkswagen's regular GTE models can be driven approximately 32 miles in all-electric mode and yet they can cover very long distances with confidence. GTE versions are conceivable in all vehicle classes, as demonstrated with the Cross Coupe GTE SUV concept vehicle that was shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The Sport Coupé Concept GTE adds a new facet to its GTE philosophy. The 374-horsepower (279 kW) GTE fastback delivers the long-distance properties of a Gran Turismo while simultaneously enabling zero-emission driving, thanks to its two electric motors and externally chargeable battery. The concept car has a top speed of 155 mph and has an impressive EC average combined fuel consumption of 118 mpg.
Volkswagen differentiates between the B, C and D segments in the mid-size and premium classes. The latest Passat, for example, is setting standards in the high-volume section of the B segment; the Volkswagen CC is positioned in the upper B segment; and the Phaeton, as a premium sedan, is in the D segment. The Sport Coupé Concept is breaking out of its current segment and into the C segment. Klaus Bischoff: "Internally, the Sport Coupé Concept GTE is a car that we position above today's Volkswagen CC. We are enriching this segment with a premium design which is as exclusive as it is dynamic, and which casts the term avant-garde in a new light."