What Will Cars Look Like in 2049?

future car

The U.K.'s Royal College of Art recently launched a competition asking students to design the future of Opel/Vauxhall (European car makers) mobility in 40-years time. Only 19 students entered, but the results are impressive nonetheless.

The winning design, dubbed the Opel Darwin 2049, came from Augustin Barbot. Augustin will spend three months working at General Motors European Design Center as his prize. The student's wheel-less concept vehicle moves either 10 centimeters above the ground or under the sea with a magnetic "maglev" system. Three turbines--two in the front, one in the back--produce energy to propel the vehicle forward. The vehicle features an aluminum frame covered by a semi-flexible, waterproof resin.

It's hard to imagine that cars of the future will be powered by wind considering our current move towards electric vehicles, but 40 years ago we may not have envisioned plug-in hybrids, either.

Other notable entries in the competition include Hyunjoon Park's car that molds to a driver's shape, Young Seong Kim's pods that use gravity from waterfalls for propulsion (below) and Miika Heikken's zero-emissions single seat vehicle for cities.

young seongkim

[Royal College of Art via Autobloggreen]

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3 Comments

  • Kathryn Hautanen

    If sustainability were a design criteria for this challenge, I doubt that a "car" would be the transportation solution for a 40 year horizon. How about a challenge that is less myopic that leads to system changes to meet our transportation needs, rather than yet another design challenge that creates more manufacturing waste and environment damage? As a Design Strategy MBA student at California College of the Arts, it seems to me that design is more than just creating another "thing," but rather a rethinking of the entire philosophy of user needs. Innovation is about finding a way to satisfy those user needs (e.g. transportation) without simply changing the form factor of an unsustainable object.

  • Kathryn Hautanen

    If sustainability were a design criteria for this challenge, I doubt that a "car" would be the transportation solution for a 40 year horizon. How about a challenge that is less myopic that leads to system changes to meet our transportation needs, rather than yet another design challenge that creates more manufacturing waste and environment damage?

  • donjarrell

    It would be very interesting to hear how this assignment, and the requirements for the design, were framed. Are we to assume that *everyone* expects that in 40 years such beautiful-but-flimsy vehicles would survive because traffic crashes, door dings and garage pillars will have been eliminated ? In that respect, that future misjudgment is here today because a 3 mph "crash" did $6,000 to my beautiful present-day BMW. Will cars in 2049 be disposable - which is finally being seen today as an engineering planning *problem* ? How about, in the spirit of FastCompany, this effort be revisited with an orientation to *sustainable* cars in 2049.