When car manufacturers want to try out ideas, their designers and engineers get to work on concept cars. They could create groundbreaking driving technology or craft wild body designs. Or they could fine-tune a driver’s experience by adjusting interior lighting or seat style. Working on concepts helps direct the future of the auto industry.
The first concept car — the Buick Y-Job, designed in 1938 — showcased features such as pop-up headlights, flush door handles and power windows — some of which would become standard in cars years later.
Manufacturers keep unveiling new features, and while you probably won’t see these exact cars on the road one day, you might see many of their concept features.
BMW i Vision Dee
Meet the i Vision Dee. “Dee” stands for “digital emotional experience.” BMW’s electric concept features empathetic technology, meaning the car can talk to you and show emotions — like winking with its headlights. The driver’s side window greets you with a projected avatar image of yourself. The front windshield is also your control dash, displaying navigation data as well as social media messages and virtual world projections. The front windshield technology should go into production by 2025.
The car’s exterior color can be customized with the touch of a button. Want racing stripes, a checkerboard design or for your rims to match the rest of the car? The 240 panels covering the car can be individually controlled to change color through electrodes that display as many as 32 different colors within seconds.
The activesphere is Audi’s latest study in improving the driving experience by designing from the inside out. Previously, the company has created convertible, sedan and minivan concepts in its “sphere” series. Now it’s come up with an electric crossover sport utility vehicle.
Panoramic windows in the roof, under the windshield and at the bottom of the doors let you take in more of the views. The back windshield slides up and transforms the rear into a truck bed, giving you more room to haul gear or bicycles. Put on a pair of augmented reality glasses, and virtual controls and maps appear in front of you inside the car. The steering wheel can fold up into the dash so you can sit back and stream a movie while the activesphere drives you to your next outdoor adventure.
Buick Wildcat EV
This concept car took four years to build. The result highlights elements that will be in production vehicles starting this year, like the company’s new logo, an ultrawide infotainment display and a new front grill design. The electric Wildcat also hints at Buick’s goal to make all its vehicles electric by the end of the decade.
You can easily get in and out, thanks to the roof lifting by 15 degrees when the doors open. Inside, the futuristic seats and console appear to float. The Wildcat also uses artificial intelligence and biometrics to help the driver. If you’re getting stressed in traffic, the vehicle could detect your heart rate rising, release calming aromatherapy scents and activate the massaging seats to calm you down.
Chill-Out is one of a few concepts Nissan revealed in its efforts to offer a smoother and safer drive in its future electric vehicles. The position of the all-solid electric battery on the vehicle’s chassis, along with improved powertrain and traction control, provides better overall control and responsiveness.
The concepts, which also include a convertible, truck and SUV, tease at what could be coming soon as the company invests more in its electric lineup. With the Chill-Out crossover, the simple, large dash lets you sit back, relax and watch a movie. The interior lighting surrounds the seats, creating a futuristic atmosphere.