Last year at this time, we profiled the Top 10 Wackiest Green Concept Cars of 2008. Here we go again.
This year, we kept our list to seven—all of which fall into the theme of cars that can change shape or otherwise be radically transformed. None of these cars stand a chance of going into production, but that’s not the purpose of a concept car. It’s vapor and everybody knows it. The problem is when car companies present a concept as if it were viable, building up expectations that will never be met.
As long as these vehicles stir our imagination and open our minds to new possibilities for the new year and beyond, the goal is reached.
1TransforMISS Electric Car
The TransforMISS electric car can transform itself from a car to a bike and then to a trike. Designer Thierry Dumaine places electric motors in the wheel hubs, and uses recycled paperboard for the interior. The car seats two passengers and can be driven from either seat by simply changing the position of the steering wheel. It blends, it dices, it minces. But that’s not all. The TanforMISS can be driven with two, three or four wheels, whatever best suits the traffic conditions. Don’t ask us how any of this works.
The Peugeot Globule is a worm-like vehicle with four independent cabins covered by a flexible polymer. The cabins, each with their own electric motors, share a centralized battery system. You can combine the units into different configurations, add more pods to accommodate additional passengers, and even stack them vertically to conserve space when parked.
The Minilux takes the concept of vehicle-to-grid to the furthest extreme. The vehicle is designed to remain stationary most of the time, primarily serving as a solar panel device. The top is made up of solar curtains. Solar “wings” can pivot to follow the angle of the sun. And for a lark, the owner can take the vehicle for a spin. The Minilux was designed by Jukka Rautiainen for his degree project at the Royal College of Art in London.
4The Lovos Car
Another art student, Anne Forschner at the German Pforzheim University, designed the Lovos car—which stands for Lifestyle of Voluntary Simplicity. The vehicle features a fully exchangeable part that is used 260 times. The final appearance is a fish with shiny scales—each one serving as a solar panel to recharge batteries. The hinged exterior pieces can follow the sun, or shift to change the aerodynamics for slowing down the vehicle. Forschner was trained at the Munich studio of BMW, at California studio of Mazda, and at the Mercedes studio.
The Rinspeed IChange also uses solar panels, this time mounted on the roof to charge one of two different lithium ion packs—one for short distance and one for long. The designers say that the iChange can zoom from zero to sixty in 4.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 135 miles per hour. But transformation is the key feature. Rinspeed claims that the drivers can use an iPhone app to morph the car from a streamlined one-seater to a comfortable car for three.
The TONBO’s hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system is cool, but not nearly as impressive as its ability to swim. Designed by DedekDesign and Mazda Europe, the TONBO is amphibious.
The ultra-compact Honda Native was designed for massively congested traffic. With the world’s car parc headed toward 2 billion in the next few decades, low speed travel is more real than concept. Lightweight materials, LED lighting, and lithium ion batteries help make this car green. But that’s not the only color in the Native’s palette. Designed by Tudoran Liviu, the car features a photo-chromatic exterior that changes the vehicle’s color based on the ambient temperature.