Ever seen photos of cars floating around on the internet that seem too good to be true? Cars that look like they drove straight out of 2035 or a sci-fi movie? Chances are, it was a concept car.
Those of you who might not be car aficionados might be asking, what exactly is a concept car?
Also known as prototypes or show vehicles, a concept car is simply an “idea” car often displayed at car shows or motor exhibitions to demonstrate new styling or technologies. HowStuffWorks explains,
“Traditionally, concept cars were usually extreme flights of fancy. With exaggerated bodywork and wildly impractical technology, concept cars of the past boldly tossed reason out the window while pointing the way to a more fun motoring future.”
The invention of concept cars has largely been credited to Harley Earl, designer for General Motors, who came up with the first prototype in 1938.
Concept cars are never directly put into production, however some have been tweaked for practicality, cost, safety, and other aspects to produce a drivable and street-legal vehicle. Two vehicles, for example, that started out as concepts were the Toyota FJ Cruiser and the Dodge Viper. Most concept cars, however, stay ideas, while only parts of the concept are incorporated into the design of other cars.
So, we rounded up the best concept cars to see what’s in store for the future of autos:
10. Nissan Ellure
This from-the-future car comes from Nissan, as a fuel-efficient and aesthetically innovative hybrid. As Nissan’s website explains, the Ellure is “a supercharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is paired with a 25 kW electric motor and an advanced lithium-ion battery, to deliver an impressive 273 horsepower.”
Ellure’s “Intelligent Dual Clutch Control” system lets the car runs entirely on electricity, while the brakes recycle energy back into the system. Ellure is also equipped with a “smooth-shifting Xtronic CVT, an independent suspension, and an advanced drive-by-wire electro-hydraulic steering system.”
As you can see, the QX30 stands in opposition to many sharp and angular SUVs we see today with a fluid and smooth frame. Infiniti’s concept is actually categorized as a sort of half-SUV half-hatchback vehicle.
This Jeep is a “tiny-tot” SUV of sorts, with tough wheels, all-black trim, and a tough-as-nails body to withstand any and all adventures. What’s up with the trailer? Car and Driver’s blog explains:
“The unit unfolds to reveal a giant touch screen loaded with a version of Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system as well as a bunch of speakers (although we’re a bit confused as to why the trailer has a fuel door).”
7. Lexus LF-SA
This almost scary-looking Lexus LF-SA is reminiscent of some sort of evil Transformer. True to Lexus’ brand personality, this mini-me is all about luxury. Lexus explains that the concept is “conceived as a luxurious, driver-focused vehicle, designed to address a future world that is more influenced by technology and virtual experiences.”
6. Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II
This car is a modification on Mitsubishi’s original XR-PHEV, with few aesthetic changes. The vehicle can run on electric power alone or in series-hybrid or parallel-hybrid modes. The car also allows the driver to select “battery save” and “battery charge” modes.
This Kia might remind you a whole lot of the Kia Soul. However, the Trail’ster has an adventurous twist to it. Fit for off-roading, this concept features an all-wheel-drive system, aluminum skid plates, a roll-back canvas roof, and an integrated roof rack for your mountain bikes or snowboards.
4. Acura NSX
What makes the NSX so unique isn’t what you would expect from an exotic-looking sports car. The exotic car game was rocked by this concept’s drivability, safety, and dependability. This concept icon took the typically occasional-used sports car and made it a staple.
3. Hyundai Santa Cruz
It’s a pickup truck concept, ladies and gentlemen. The ever-lucrative midsize truck category is alive and well with this futuristic looking Hyundai. This concept was born from Hyundai’s close ear to the market and what consumers wanted in a truck. Car and Driver explains:
“Hyundai’s research shows that full-size pickup purchases are decreasing both among women and the under-30 crowd and that those groups could be wooed with the right vehicle. Thus was born the Santa Cruz, one of the cooler-looking vehicles ever to be focus-grouped into existence.
2. Chevy Bolt
Like many concepts, the Chevy Bolt is a tiny car for maximum efficiency. However, it is said to be able to fit four adults comfortably. Bolt is an electric car that boasts an extra-quick charge, and is rumored to be rolling into the market around 2018.
1. Ford GT
This carbon-fiber concept is the Acura NSX rival, set to be on the market sometime next year. According to the Daily News Autos, this car is “powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, upwards of 600-horsepower is delivered to the rear wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.” Basically, the new Ford GT is a watered-down racer for everyone.