The annual Geneva Motor Show is a showcase event where concept car designers display their vision for the future. Here’s a look at 10 cars from the show that reveal a greener–and more expensive–future.
10.) Ford Iosis Max
What it is: This hatchback concept is a teaser for the next Ford Focus, designed to gauge audience and press reaction to the design. The look is inspired by Ford’s edgy “kinetic design” language found on most of the company’s European products.
How it will change driving: Ford believes the increase in gas prices, and decrease in pocket change, will push more people into the compact segment, which is generally filled by cheap and uninspiring models (or else really expensive ones, like the MINI Cooper). Ford wants to change perceptions of what a small car can be by marketing a stylish car for a budget-minded audience.
What it is: While most super premium automakers are going upmarket in an effort to woo the super-rich, Rolls Royce plans to rob the parts bin of its parent company BMW to build a “Baby Rolls” for the mass affluent. It looks like the company has successfully hidden the smaller dimensions behind the massive grille of this 200EX concept.
How it will change driving: Buyers not wiped out by the recent market downturn but still in the market for a premium car will finally be able to own a Rolls Royce without selling a kidney.
What it is: Magna Steyr is an Austrian manufacturer and parts supplier better known for building cars for companies such as Mercedes, MINI and Audi. This didn’t stop them from attempting to market their own flexible electric vehicle concept for any car makers looking to quickly and cheaply create an EV program.
How it will change driving: Despite early reports of their demise, the electric car is coming back. Battery issues aside, electric cars are less complicated to build and companies like Magna Steyr may change the way cars are designed and built by offering a way to outsource much of the process.
7.) Infiniti Essence
What it is: Lexus will soon have four hybrids in their lineup. Infiniti has none. The Essence both hints at the company’s future design direction and the possibilities hybrid technology offers for a sports car.
How it will change driving: If the company produces the stunning coupe and keeps the twin-turbocharged V6-con-electric motor setup it’ll be the first such vehicle in mass production. The prospect of V8-power with V6 fuel economy in an attractive and sporty car certainly has its appeal to those who want to have their cake and eat it from an environmentally-friendly and biodegradable package, too.
6.) Rinspeed E2
What it is: Based on the popular Fiat 500 sub-subcompact car, Swiss firm Rinspeed has added a novel form of green capability. This stylish little machine offers two levels of power output depending on the driver’s needs with the push of a button. For slow city cruising the E2 can bet set to a slower and more efficient power setting. Conversely, the driver can select a sportier mode for quicker and less efficient highway driving.
How it will change driving: Currently, only hybrids differentiate power output based on the type of driving. And even those systems are automatic. The availability of such a system in a gas engine will allow drivers to chose when they want to feed their inner-speed demon or inner-Al Gore.
5.) Mitsubishi iMiEV
What it is: The coupe version of Mitsubishi’s tiny iMiEV electric car, the Japanese company extended the range of its electric car by dropping some weight with an aluminum frame. Mitsubishi also upped the ‘fun quotient’ by adding a brightly lit and quasi-techno interior.
How it will change driving: Eschewing the trend towards making electric cars seem like everything else on the road, Mitsubishi makes a strong argument for electric cars as hip gadgets.
What it is: Built on a completely recyclable basalt fiber chassis, this electric car promises to revolutionize car-to-car communication by offering a rear window that acts as an LED display.
How it will change driving: Ignoring the tried-and-true middle finger wave, drivers have to either honk or tap their brakes to send a message to other drivers. The Light Car allows the car to manually or automatically transmit information to those behind it. This information includes traffic notices, pedestrian interference and changing lights. The company wants to make the car “open source” so developers can create new applications for it. Think of it as an iPhone car.
3.) Koenigsegg Quant
What it is: Koenigsegg is famous for building cars as exotic as its Swedish name. The oddly-named Quant is a full-scale model of a four-seat electric car theoretically capable of a top speed of 170 MPH and a 300-mile range after only a 20-minute charge.
How it will change driving: Everyone is waiting for the breakthrough that will allow electric cars to travel as far on a single charge as their fuel-chugging counterparts can on a full tank of gas. If the Koenigsegg can live up to its own hype they’ll finally dispatch of the notion that electric cars are more trouble than they’re worth for a daily driver.
2.) Rinspeed iChange
What it is: In addition to the E2, Rinspeed brought out its iChange electric car concept for the Geneva crowds. What makes this car different from other battery-powered offerings is the car’s special ability to change from a single-passenger vehicle to an automobile capable of ferrying three people around.
How it will change driving: There are few things as wasteful as a soccer mom driving to the mailbox in her empty, 7-passenger SUV. The iChange adjusts the body to form the most aerodynamic and, thereby, most efficient version of the car based on the number of passengers.
What it is: Designed by famous Italian firm Giugiaro, this hybrid claims to be the fastest ever with a top speed of 187 MPH. While this number is realistic given the two electric motors and sleek design, the 1,200-mile range seems almost impossible without a tank for the small gas engine larger than the car itself.
How it will change driving: Assuming this isn’t just a wild dream, and it’s a big assumption, the technology erases the biggest stumbling block for electric cars: range. Another major issue with electric cars is price and it’s hard not to believe this one will have a price to match its outrageous claims if it ever goes into production.
Read more coverage of the Geneva Auto Show at Jalopnik.
Matt Hardigree is a journalist, political strategist and proud native Texan. He’s currently an editor at Gawker’s Jalopnik.com as well as a regular contributor to thehill.com and More Riders Magazine.