Pure concept cars at the Geneva auto show (photos)
The most extreme concept cars bear no resemblance to any current model, and probably no future models, either. This collection of concept cars from the 2010 Geneva auto show exhibit features such as video camera side mirrors and extraordinarily curved body shapes.
Citroen created the Survolt concept as a reaction against the typical electric cars currently in the pipeline toward production. Where those cars actively eschew style, the Survolt gathers it up and flaunts it. Where electric cars serve as transportation appliances, the Survolt delivers sports car looks, or possibly a bad hallucination.
Hyundai calls the design language of the i-flow Fluidic Sculpture, and insists that its future models will embody this style. We would just like to see the fender-mounted rear-view video cameras find their way onto a future Sonata.
The i-flow explores some interesting power train technology. Hyundai specifies a two-stage turbocharger on a 1.7-liter diesel engine, complemented by an electric drive motor, achieving 78 mpg. An interesting new technology uses the heat from the exhaust to generate additional electricity, up to 250 watts when the concept is traveling 50 mph.
During GM's financial woes, the fate of Opel came into question, but the Flextreme GT/E Concept is supposed to represent an energized company exploring new design language, which Opel describes as "sculptural artistry meets German precision."
The floating C-pillar is a unique aspect of this car's design, but more interestingly, the Flextreme GT/E Concept employs the same series hybrid power train used in the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera. Opel says this concept represents the use of that electric power train in a larger car.
Unlike the other cars in this concept roundup, the Peugeot SR1 concept looks really desirable. As with the other cars, Peugeot says the SR1 telegraphs new design style for the company's cars. The SR1 is meant to modernize the grand tourer, working as a sporty car for weekend getaways. Peugeot notes that its traditional lion badge was redesigned for this concept, and will be used going forward in new production cars.
The SR1 uses the hybrid power train, called HYbrid4, which Peugeot has shown off in previous concepts, and will use in the next 3008 model coming out in 2011. HYbrid4 drives all four wheels using a 218 horsepower gasoline engine in front and a 95-horsepower electric motor in back.
The instrument cluster is set far forward in the dashboard in a driver-focused manner that prevents the front-seat passenger from looking over and checking the speed. There is a single rear seat that comes up between the two front seats.
Mercedes-Benz does not make concept vehicles. The F800 Style is referred to as a research vehicle, letting the company try out new designs and technologies. Nothing conceptual about it, according to the company. The F800 Style follows the F700, shown at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show. This research vehicle uses a historical design for the front grille, while downsizing the current out-sized wheel arches of the S-class.
Mercedes-Benz designed the F800 Style to use either a plug-in hybrid power train or a fuel cell electric drive. For the former, the car would be able to go almost 20 miles under electric power alone, with maximum range of 375 miles, all the while getting to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds.
Very interesting technologies in the cabin include a new kind of user interface employing a camera and touch pad on the console. The camera watches the driver's hand on the touch pad, with a translucent version projected low on the windshield. Drivers can see what part of the touch pad they are using without having to look down to the console.
Another innovative and scary-sounding technology builds on Mercedes-Benz's current adaptive cruise control, which can bring the car to a complete halt when traffic up ahead stops. Called Traffic Jam Assist, this new technology not only slows the F800 Style down to match the speed of the car ahead, but at speeds below 25 mph, also follows the car ahead as it turns, freeing the driver from actually having to steer at low speeds.