The road to the future is paved with concept cars, an important glimpse of the technology and design we’ll be driving one day soon. Concepts from Jaguar, Mitsubishi, Chrysler, VW and Toyota are being showcased at current auto shows.
Some concepts are just for show, while others are really pre-production models, giving the R&D team the time and permission to make final tweaks before the model goes on sale, and others are in between. But all exhibit the best of whats to come, down the road.
Jaguar I-Pace is a sleek electric mid-size SUV with 200 horsepower motors on each axle, providing a 400hp kick that launches it 0-60 in a Jaguar-like 4.0 seconds, and high-tech liquid-cooled lithium ion batteries with a 220 mile range. If that sounds like a Tesla, the answer is yes. The I-Pace will be a direct competitor, in performance, style, luxury leathers and woods in the cabin, and bragging rights. It’s less a “concept” than pre-production model, due next year, most likely as a 2019 model.
Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV is a next-generation full-size SUV with full-time 4WD. It is based on a front engine, rear-wheel drive layout plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) system, with a 3.0-liter V6 supercharged MIVEC engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with a high-output motor and a high-capacity battery, to deliver all-terrain performance. Active safety technologies and the advanced “connected car” technology utilizes next-generation information systems including a danger detection system which activates the corresponding safety functions and a failure/malfunction early-detection system which urges the driver to seek repairs or other maintenance when necessary.
Chrysler Portal is an electric minivan with advanced batteries and a range of more than 250 miles on a full charge, and the ability to drive autonomously on highways, with more driverless features to come. The clam-shell doors are highlighted by a ring of LED lights, and seating can be reconfigured easily, just as in the bestselling Chrysler Pacifica minivan. But my favorite Portal feature is the super-tech facial recognition technology, which could make car keys obsolete one day.
Volkswagen I.D. features a 3D digital cockpit integrated with Amazon’s Alexa for voice-activated everything. The cockpit can be customized – nothing new about that. But what’s new is that each driver can have pre-set customization, just like dual driver seat settings that have been around for years. Settings, including for streaming entertainment, are all via a smartphone app, which updates wirelessly on entry. You can even link the car to your Facebook account, so the navigation system can take your like and follow preferences into account when planning a route. There’s also a sophisticated “head-up” display in the driver’s line-of-sight, to simplify all that information and help avoid distracted driving. VW plans to launch the I.D. in 2020, with full autonomous features arriving in 2025.
Toyota Concept-I has no conventional dashboard screens, replaced by a next-generation head-up display. Also, colored lights in the foot wells inform you when the car is in autonomous or driving mode, and similar lights around the seats warn you about blind-spots, and lights also greet your approach. I just love the idea of anybody or anything lighting up when they see me! More importantly, technology monitors driver attention and road conditions, adding more automated safety support when needed, including to help navigate dangerous conditions, such as when you are dozing off or glazing over.
The future will be here before we know it. Which one do you want to drive?