Every carmaker spends millions on R&D, and concepts are an important preview of what’s down the road for design and technology, arriving in our driveways as soon as 2020.
While some are just clickbait “show cars” for photographers and TV news reports, never to be seen again, others are really pre-production models undergoing some final tweaking before heading to dealerships.
Two recent concepts show the promise of things to come to our driveways and garages in 2020 and beyond. That’s not as far in the future as it seems, since some manufacturers already are introducing 2019 models.
Nissan Xmotion Concept SUV
The Nissan Xmotion Concept (shown above) is described as a “design direction” for the company’s SUVs and crossovers, so you can expect some of these futuristic features to show up in Nissan models including Rogue and Pathfinder.
But it would take some time to adjust to replacing the traditional steering wheel with something that looks more like a video game controller. Ditto the beefed-up look of the front fenders, which Nissan describes as “purposeful strength”.
Some of the new driver assistance tools also will require a period of adjustment.
Touch screens are replaced by a “floating commander” wheel on the console to control the entertainment and temperature systems. Conventional side view mirrors are replaced by itty-bitty cameras, and images are displayed on one of several screens above and across the dashboard, as are blind spot and lane departure warnings.
And forget the keyless engine start that was so revolutionary just a short time ago. The Xmotion uses fingerprint authentification.
Also promising is new lighting technology that allows the headlamps to integrate high beam, low beam and turn signals into a single unit, which is shaped like a boomerang. The intensity and color of the lighting changes depending on the function.
VW I.D. Crozz Concept SUV
Volkswagen’s I.D. CROZZ is also an SUV, but this one is both a compact and an all-electric, with an anticipated range of 300 miles, about triple what current EVs get, thanks to new-generation lithium-ion battery technology.
Like the Xmotion, there’s also no center pillar. But instead of clamshell doors, the VW concept SUV has conventional doors in the front and minivan-like sliding doors in the back.
It’s built on the same platform as the I.D. BUZZ, the updated EV version of VW’s iconic Microbus, which the company continues to show as a concept before its planned introduction in 2022. The CROZZ will arrive before that, perhaps in 2020.
They are two of a total of 15 EV models VW hopes to introduce globally by 2025 using that platform. I’m hoping the additional models have better names than truly dreadful, even downright stupid, all-capital-letters BUZZ and CROZZ.
And what’s with the I.D. part of the name? Maybe it stands for “it’s dumb”. C’mon, VW.
I can also live without the light show that accompanies each engine start. Do we really need white LED lights that spring into action, pulsating and zipping around the interior to “welcome the driver”, as VW gushes in its press release abut the concept CROZZ.
But here’s what I love about the CROZZ –
The default driving force is the rear-axle motor. The front motor kicks in automatically when needed for traction and power, such as highway merges or uphill, saving battery power for extended driving range.
Doors are voice-activated. You can customize the color of the lights that “welcome” you when you enter. You can activate automatic pilot – the self-driving mode – by voice, or by touching the VW logo on the steering wheel.
And, I also love that this concept has a full panoramic roof, down to its hatch-like rear, so there’s none of that cramped feel of conventional SUVs.
Get ready. The future will be in your driveway before you know it.
This article is adapted from one I wrote for Green Wheeling, my automotive column syndicated internationally by Motor Matters.