Concept cars envision the future of motor vehicles

Could this be a vision of our future?

This is the Quant 48Volt, a high-performance electric design by Zurich research and development center nanoFlowcell.

Unlike many of the cars on the Geneva Motor Show floor, this is not headed for the production lines, it’s instead a demonstration vehicle for how electric flow cell technology might change motoring.

The Quant is equipped with a 48 V Low-Voltage Flow Cell Drive which propels the car to a top speed of 186  miles per hour and from zero to sixty-two mph in 2.4 seconds.

The flow cell technology promises a range of over 620 miles on a single charge, working on a low battery voltage of 48 volts.

Ralf Kaiser from nanoFlowcell says they created the Quant to provide “perspective” on how electric power can change mobility.

“When I see many manufacturers, they do not have a perspective on electric mobility. You have individual business cases, like Tesla, but you do not have a future concept for electric mobility,” he says.

“You have a lot of alibi cars because no one wants to have fingers pointed at them; ‘Oh, you don’t have an electric car.’ But if you ask for a long-term strategy there is none because the current technology doesn’t provide a perspective. And this is why we are here.”

Across the show floor, Toyota Europe are showcasing this electric vehicle, but the focus is not what’s under the hood, but behind it.

The i-TRIL is intended as a viable alternative to passenger cars, public transport or motorcycles for short, inner-city journeys.

The idea is it can be used for short, city-center commutes or perhaps picking up the kids from school.

But not too many kids; the i-TRIL boasts just two passenger seats, plus the front driving position.

“The future will be all about variety, you know. People driving SUVs, some others will use public transportation, but more and more we don’t believe that one car can fit all your needs,” says Pierre Romeo from Toyota Europe.

“So, in the future maybe you will try to rent this car or buy this car and rent the SUV or rent something else.”

Japanese auto manufacturer Nissan is showing its vision of the future through an array of futuristic-looking vehicles, including this three-seater BladeGlider.

Nissan unveiled a working prototype of its futuristic vehicle, which combines zero emissions, high performance, and sports car design.

A wild version of the design appeared back in 2013, but with advancing technologies, Nissan has now produced this working version.

Performance is central, promising 120 mph and 0-60 mph in less than five seconds.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says they created the ‘Glider to prove electric cars aren’t all reserved-looking cars.

“The BladeGlider is in fact a symbol of performance in electric cars,” he says.

“A lot of people have an image of an electric vehicle as being a good car, but more stable, slow. Well, it’s not the case. Electric cars are performance cars, they can be performance cars.

“So, here we have a completely new design, we have huge torque, we have a lot of performance; that’s why for us it’s a symbol of innovation and performance, with zero emissions.”

While much of the industry heads towards battery power, Hyundai is exploring the possibilities in hydrogen fuel cell technology.

This FE Fuel Concept looks ahead to what the company’s next generation of fuel cell vehicles might look like.

The name, “FE,” stands for “Future Eco,” reflecting the new technologies and eco-friendly outlook.

It can share that green theme too—the FE Concept is fitted with portable battery packs which are charged by the car’s energy output and can be used to power other passenger vehicles.

Robin Hayles admits fuel cell tech is very much a new technology for many drivers.

He hopes this futuristic yet practical design may encourage others to explore it.

“The tricky thing with any kind of new technology, which fuel cell technology still is, is trying to find that balance between a desirable, futuristic-looking car, but at the same time not turning people away from it because it looks too futuristic,” he says.

“Hopefully we’ve got there with this type of design. Yes, it’s futuristic, but still able to deal with the demands of today’s world.”

While many car makers look five to ten years into the future with their concepts, French auto manufacturer Citroen is perhaps looking a little closer.

This C-Aircross concept is a bold and colorful preview of how the company plans to make its offensive on the booming SUV market.

It’s not likely drivers will be going off road too often—instead it’s about style, space, and design.

Jim Holder, the editorial director of UK-based automotive magazine “Autocar” says as the industry approaches once-futuristic themes, such as digitization and electric power, those concepts are becoming ever more realistic creations.

“I think it’s the themes of autonomy and digitalization and electrification that are showing through most in the concept cars,” he says.

“Whatever a concept car is, it has to carry those themes because we know they’re coming to market. They’ll be on sale now within about five years.

“So, all the manufacturers are trying to show they’re on top of that technology and that they do have a vision for how it can work its way into our lives.”

The Geneva Motor Show opens to the public on March 9 and runs through March 19.

In total 900 models are shown by 180 exhibitors, including 148 world and European premiers, according to organizers.