Concept cars, our favorite part of any auto show, were in abundance at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, a sign that automakers are once again exploring innovative new design directions for their models.
Kia's concept car, the Pop, runs on electricity and is about 9 feet long. With those dimensions, it would make a suitable city car. But the outlandish design suggests it is not something that will ever see production.
Nissan describes the Townpod as a car for entrepreneurs whose lives mix business and pleasure. The Townpod is a kind of work truck that is also meant to be used for leisure activities. Using the same electric power train as the Leaf, the Townpod is a zero emission vehicle. Similar to the Leaf, there is a plug port in front.
With its work truck purpose, the Townpod offers an easily accessed cargo area in back. A rear seat can slide back to fill the space, making for greater passenger carrying ability, or hide away. This design element could certainly be used in a production vehicle.
Nissan describes the Townpod as designed to integrate with a driver's smartphone. The interior uses two LCDs, one for vehicle information and one for infotainment. However, the center positioning of the screens would make them impractical for use as a speedometer display.
The Zoe Preview is actually a 90 percent complete form for Renault's upcoming electric vehicle, the Zoe, which it will market in 2012. The exterior styling of the Zoe Preview is almost conventional. The car will be powered by an 80 horsepower electric motor.
These LED headlights might look like a typical concept car feature, but this technology is already seen in use on high-end cars. It would be a likely choice for an electric vehicle due to the low power requirements.
The plant visible in the cabin does not just symbolize the car's green power train, it also refers to an innovative climate control system that Renault developed with L'Oreal. The car adjusts humidity to keep passengers' skin hydrated, closes vents if it senses toxic materials in the outside air, and sprays pleasing scents into the cabin.
The HR1 is designed as a compact urban utility vehicle, and makes use of Peugeot's Hybrid4 power train. With this hybrid system, the HR1 gets a 1.2-liter gas engine in front and an electric motor in back, delivering a combined 147 horsepower. The car can be driven at low speed under electric power alone.
The doors are electrically operated, and designed so the HR1 can be parked in tight spaces. The interior of the car has two front seats and two stowaway rear seats, making it suitable for four passengers or two passengers and cargo.
For infotainment systems, Peugeot developed a motion sensitive interface for the HR1. The driver can use gestures near the dashboard for choosing music or activating navigation. There is also a head-up display to show vehicle speed and other driving information.
Citroen and Lacoste have created a joint division, and this concept doesn't serve so much as a design for a new car but as a symbol of the partnership. This concept is powered by a three-cylinder engine and has an automatically inflating top as opposed to a conventional convertible.
The Quattro is not really a concept, as it does not presage a future model or explore a design direction. Rather, Audi built it to celebrate 30 years of its Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The Quattro uses Audi's latest all-wheel-drive technology, which features torque vectoring across the rear wheels, a significant improvement over the system from 30 years ago.
Based on the RS5 chassis, the Quattro's body reflects the original Quattro that was launched 30 years ago. The C pillar in particular shows the same angular cut. But this car uses lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum, along with a turbocharged direct-injection 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, the same as currently used in the TT RS.
Renault says its DeZir concept signals the company's move to more emotional design. This concept certainly emphasizes a lush look with no harsh lines. Although the stripe of contrasting material down the side is reminiscent of the Audi R8.
Renault does not intend to produce the DeZir, but says it would have an electric power train. The motor is mid-mounted, just behind the cabin for weight balance. The car's 24 kwh lithium ion battery pack gives it a range of 100 miles.
BMW fans will be glad to see this new Concept 6 Series, a clear indication that the carmaker is coming close to updating the look of the current model. This new look is sleek, eschewing ornamentation for a smoothed design. BMW used LED headlights on this concept, although what form the lights will take on the production version is not confirmed.
The most troublesome aspect of the current 6 Series is the trunk lid. This 6 Series concept mostly fixes that issue by blending the sides of the trunk lid with the rest of the car. But the lid still has a substantial lip, which separates it from the highly desirable look of the original 1970s 6 series.
The LCD in this concept is a massive 10.2 inches, continuing BMW's trend of using particularly large LCDs in its cars. This concept also features a Bang & Olufsen audio system with 16 speakers, the start of a partnership between the two brands.
Jaguar's concept showcases a new design and hybrid power train. The cab seems almost an afterthought, slung low between the large wheels, 21s in front and 22s in back. The car is a celebration of Jaguar's 75 years, hence its name, but also a test bed for a new power train.
Instead of an adjustable seat, Jaguar made the pedals, steering wheel, and instrument cluster adjustable. The cabin uses brushed aluminum and neoprene as a soft-touch material, lending a taste of futuristic luxury. The cabin also benefits from an audio system designed by Bowers & Wilkins.