10 best concepts of the International auto show season (photos)
From Frankfurt to New York, with stops in Geneva, Detroit, and Los Angeles, automakers unveiled their secret design projects to the public. These concept cars showed off new styling language, along with cabin and power-train technology.
Acura went through something of a slump, ditching the original NSX to focus on practical, high-volume cars. But the company is back in high gear with a new hybrid system that should make the new NSX fast and economical. This car will even boast all-wheel drive for sharp handling. The best thing -- Acura promises to put this car into production.
Nissan's development of the electric power train for the Leaf has inspired development of different electric car concepts within the company. The Emerg-E is a particularly tasty sport car concept, with two electric motors and a range extender engine. Developed at its European design center, Infiniti will probably not build a production version; a shame, as Infiniti lacks a true sport car.
Lexus earlier showed its supercar ambitions with the LFA. The LF-LC is more modest, but could be the basis for a new hybrid sport car attainable by the masses. Lexus provided few details as to power or potential production, but the car could be a predecessor to a new IS, or even the return of the SC.
Kia has been building a string of surprisingly good-looking cars lately, and the GT concept shows the company still has plenty of fuel in the tank. Eschewing the electric drive, the GT uses one of Kia's existing gasoline engines, showing that the concept is more about styling than anything else. Think of it as the next-generation Optima.
The latest in a line of research vehicles, the F125 shows off a number of technologies, including fuel cell power and an innovative new traffic driving feature. Not only will a full tank of hydrogen run the F125 for 600 miles, the car can automatically negotiate slow-moving traffic jams, letting the driver read the paper or catch up on e-mail.
Ford demonstrated again and again over the last decade its commitment to new technology. The Evos serves as not only a design concept, but a showcase for continuing research. The Evos uses a plug-in hybrid power train, which will see use in new Ford production vehicles, and cloud-connected cabin electronics. Ford specified that the Evos is merely a technology demonstrator, and will not enter production.
The Code 130R does not push any tech boundaries, as it relies on a solid, turbocharged four-cylinder for motivation. This design concept is meant as a show car for the nation's youth, and so will not see production. But with cool retro looks and rear-wheel drive, it is a car we can dream about.
The Invitation is Nissan's stab at a B-segment car for Europe, so it will probably go into production looking fairly close to the concept. Nissan did not specify a power train, but said it is targeting CO2 emissions of 100 grams per kilometer. We can only hope that this concept's stylish looks filter out to the rest of the model lineup as a common design language.
The production-bound LE will be Infiniti's version of the Leaf. The LE will use a pure electric power train with similar specs to that of the Leaf, yet will come in a package refined for Infiniti's level of luxury. Infiniti says the LE is about 85 percent of what will appear as a production vehicle within the next two years.
The new hybrid power train Acura showed off in the NSX will find a home in the RLX, a production-intent vehicle to replace the current RL. The RL was something of a tech marvel in 2005, but it was overtaken by other cars. The RLX may not regain the crown, but it will certainly bring Acura back level with the pack.