By on April 19, 2022

Back when everyone still bought into the hype surrounding self-driving cars, automakers were releasing concept vehicles framed as a “lounge on wheels.” The theory was that once autonomous vehicles hit the mainstream, companies would begin dropping futuristic models with swanky interiors because drivers would no longer be responsible for piloting the car for the duration of its journey. However, the public eventually learned that autonomous driving technologies had failed to progress as promised and would likely come with a host of restrictions plenty of drivers wouldn’t be interested in once the wrinkles had been ironed out.

But there are a whole host of markets to be tapped, the public has a relatively short-term memory, and there’s always a chance that some major headway was made during the last few years of development. So we’ve seen a resurgence of mobility talk from the industry, especially as it relates to all-electric vehicles. Case in point is the Audi Urbansphere — an autonomous concept vehicle designed for “Chinese megacities” but allegedly perfect for a metropolitan area near you.  (Read More…)

By on January 18, 2022

Winnebago has revealed the electric e-RV camper van concept at the Florida RV SuperShow and it looks to be right in the sweet spot for North Americans interested in partaking in van life. However, the motorhome manufacturer has said the model is only capable of driving 125 miles between charging, drastically limiting how much wiggle room is in the travel itinerary.

On the upside, the 86.0-kWh battery pack does run the cavalcade of appliances the e-RV comes without the same need for maintenance as the deep-cycle units that typically go into recreational vehicles. But that also means every time you run the modern conveniences it’s been equipped with you’re losing range.  (Read More…)

By on January 5, 2022

Stellantis has announced plans to shift the Chrysler brand to an all-electric lineup by 2028, presumably because it doesn’t know what else to do with it anymore. Though, considering the make’s long and storied history, the change almost seems fitting.

When the French bought up Fiat Chrysler Automobiles from the Italians in 2021, the namesake brand had already been losing steam under the Germans. But they were adopting the company after years of mismanagement from Americans, who had taken the marque from being arguably the most luxurious and technologically advanced the United States had to one that had to be saved from bankruptcy by government intervention on more than one occasion. Suffice it to say, Chrysler has enjoyed some of the sweetest highs and pathetic lows imaginable. But it always seems to rise from the ashes thanks to some innovative decision that ultimately helps redefine the industry — which is why Stellantis is leading its own EV offensive by reviving the Airflow name. (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2021

It’s been decades since BMW introduced a dedicated M car, so imagine our surprise when we learned the next one would be a boxy SUV. Considering the last standalone M was the ground-hugging wedge that was the M1 coupe, we have to assume M Division engineers were either trying to challenge themselves or someone higher up figured they could make more money selling a utility vehicle.

While just a concept at present, the BMW XM boasts a fairly radical design. But the manufacturer has claimed it will retain over 90 percent of the prototype’s good (?) looks when it enters into production. There’s a lot of interesting stuff here that might make it into the finished product, including the extra-thin daytime running lights that sit atop the real headlamps that have been snuck behind tinted glass. It’s a strange beast that doesn’t seem like it’s targeting the traditional M shopper and, according to BMW, that’s because it isn’t.  (Read More…)

By on November 4, 2021

Hyundai Motor Company has revealed teaser images of the Ioniq SEVEN, an all-electric SUV concept scheduled to debut at AutoMobility Los Angeles later this month. The model is supposed to preview the automaker’s future design and technology innovation as it transitions toward electric vehicles, potentially previewing the upcoming sport utility vehicle to be added to the brand’s Ioniq lineup. Though it doesn’t resemble the Ioniq 5 all that much and we were under the impression that was the model foreshadowing the brand’s upcoming EVs.

No matter. Hyundai has a lot of uniquely designed models that share just enough to make it apparent that they’re still part of the larger family and most of what we’re seeing of the SEVEN concept is of its comfy, cozy interior. These teasers really make you want to curl up inside the SEVEN with a Tolstoy novel and a blanket to see how long you can get by uninterrupted.  (Read More…)

By on October 13, 2021

If anybody has a soft spot for wedge designs and the automotive future envisioned during the 1970s, it’s yours truly. While mainstream vehicles being manufactured during the Malaise Era often left a lot to be desired, the concepts were sublime and led to some of the most unique-looking production cars in automotive history. I’m talking about cars like the Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Countach, Lotus Esprit, BMW M1, De Tomaso Pantera, and DeLorean DMC-12. Toss in the digital dashboards that were gradually appearing in standard passenger cars during the 1980s and you’ve reached the point where I would probably claim automotive styling reached its zenith after a few stiff drinks. But I’ve been told by those who can distinguish fetishization from appreciation that those designs weren’t perfect and kind of look the same when there’s enough squinting is deployed.

Apparently, someone took that premise and used it as a template for a modern prototype intended to help sell shoes. Though the company focused entirely on the basic shape of wedge cars, settling on a vehicle that resembles what a Countach might have looked like in a video game from two decades ago should the assets fail to load. Known as the United Nude Lo-Res Concept Vehicle, it’s probably one of the more-unique automobiles ever built and it’s yours for the taking now that the Petersen Automotive Museum doesn’t want it.  (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2021

It often feels like the automotive industry has hit a creative wall where every concept vehicle has to be another electric vehicle offering next-generation connectivity and some self-driving claims that will later be tamped down. We’ve gotten used to being disappointed but there has been one brand that’s been furnishing concept vehicles that are at least interesting.

In 2018, Audi debuted the PB18 E-Tron Concept (AI:RACE) in an attempt to highlight what’s possible with a pure EV using the skateboard platform. Without a driveshaft hogging interior space, the automaker felt it could build a supercar with an interchangeable driving position that allowed the pilot to transition from a central F1-style cockpit to something that’s more suited to the daily commute. The company has since decided to build on that idea with the Skysphere Concept, which alters the roadster’s exterior based on whether it’s you or the car that’s doing the driving.  (Read More…)

By on July 30, 2021

Gazoo Racing (GR) has earned itself quite a bit of cachet since Akio Toyoda decided to make it the de facto performance arm of Toyota in 2009. It’s slowly supplanting Toyota Racing Development (TRD), which is still technically running the show but currently feels more like the manufacturer’s North American off-road racing division. GR has been producing global, models that actually provide enhanced performance and output from the factory while TRD has basically become the company’s in-house parts catalog.

However, Gazoo has some performance parts of its own and Toyota has been eagerly modifying the crap out of its vehicles as a way to tease them. The brand is now ready to start selling them and has re-released last month’s dual GR 86 concepts — designed to tickle the enthusiast community — with the relevant details.  (Read More…)

By on March 24, 2021

Top Dog

The Jeep Gladiator Top Dog concept vehicle is headed to Moab for the first time. First built in 2020, it sat in limbo for events to open up again, and the 55th Annual Easter Jeep Safari was the opportunity Jeep had been waiting for.

Due to COVID-19, the host group, Red Rock 4-Wheelers, had Easter Jeep Safari canceled, only to have the Grand County Commission in February approve a revision to the group’s special permit, and their event permit. Part of their compliance required cancellation of the vendor portion of the show, although the group has announced they will do a virtual live-streamed giveaway, to be held Friday, April 2nd at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time on their Facebook page.

(Read More…)

By on March 23, 2021

Jeepster

Blend a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with a 1968 Jeepster Commando and what do you get? A throwback that epitomizes why you build concept vehicles. I have to imagine it was as much fun for the designers, as it was the fabricators and the PR team that gets to display them this week at Easter Jeep Safari.

(Read More…)

By on September 3, 2020

FCA

It’s not the production model, but it’s the closest we’ve gotten so far to Jeep’s returning full-size SUV. Sport-utility family, to be clear, as Jeep plans to offer its body-on-frame rig in a variety of flavors.

Entry-level Wagoneer will give way to the high-zoot Grand Wagoneer — a vehicle Fiat Chrysler claims will redefine “American premium” by offering a plug-in hybrid variant and a host of “ultra-premium leading-edge features and technology.”

Alas, the real thing remains distant. Scheduled to go into production in the second quarter of 2021 at Warren Truck Assembly, the actual Grand Wagoneer is heralded by a “vision of what [the] production vehicle could be.”

Feast your eyes. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2020

fca

There’s nothing coincidental about the timing of this vehicle’s release. Alas, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is exactly that, a concept, though Fiat Chrysler’s off-road brand strongly hints that it will become a reality one day.

That confirmation, if it is forthcoming, will take place long after the debut of a vehicle this concept is meant to fight: the Ford Bronco. (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2020

Polestar has released details of its Precept concept, offering a reminder that this will be the vehicle that informs all future models the company produces. Jointly owned by Volvo Cars and Zhejiang Geely Holding, Polestar has morphed from the Swedish manufacturer’s partner in performance engineering into a separate brand specializing in sporting EVs.

We’ve seen the Precept before, bashing it gently in February for being a handsome sedan with a manufacturer that wasted everyone’s time (and its press release) by prattling on endlessly about green tech and sustainability. While we had hoped Polestar would remedy this in its follow-up teaser, powertrain details remain nonexistent. Considering this is a concept car, that’s not an unforgivable sin, but it’s curious a company supposedly focused on performance engineering has twice failed to discuss that aspect of the vehicle. Instead, we’re offered additional details about the model’s design — including some new photographs — as the brand continues to discuss sustainability and high-tech features.

Just enough to keep us interested. The bare minimum.  (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2020

While prophecies have a habit of coming true in films and books, they rarely come to pass here in reality. Sadly, this will probably be the case with Hyundai’s new concept EV — appropriately named the Prophecy.

Responding to a voicemail left by the God of Electrification, Hyundai has moved on what is arguably one of the best-looking concept designs since the 1938 Phantom Corsair. Black, minimalist and extremely retro-futuristic, both cars rely almost entirely on the long lines of the respective aerodynamic shells to make an impression, with small details providing additional, attention-grabbing flourishes.

Hyundai says the timeless design was intentional, yet it still manages to adhere to the brand’s “Sensuous Sportiness” design philosophy. Truth be told, we’ve had a difficult time finding a common theme among its latest concepts. Some are all angles (45 Concept) while others are all about smooth curves (Le Fil Rouge Concept). The only real through line seems to be that they all look rather good wherever they’re displayed. (Read More…)

By on February 25, 2020

While many are still under the impression that Chinese automakers will never manage to wrangle the North American automotive market, Geely’s ownership of Volvo Cars and Polestar has already proven them wrong. The Chinese manufacturer purchased Volvo in 2010, with savory bodywork and sumptuous interiors doing much of the heavy lifting with consumers. Performance-focused Polestar wasn’t purchased until a few years later, but the theme remained largely the same — move toward electrification, don’t forget about safety, and try to build the sexiest car possible while maintaining an aura of respectability.

So far, it’s worked rather well. Polestar is now eager to drive that message home via its new Precept concept vehicle. The company claims the car reveals “a vision of the brand’s future direction and a clear expression of intent.” Since we’re fluent in marketing speak, we’re pleased to tell you that sentence is not entirely meaningless.  (Read More…)

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