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Top five concept cars from major manufacturers

Today we take a look at the concepts that the big players plan on being the cars of the future.  It’s interesting to note the move away from the pure flashy sports coupes and hyper-sports cars of previous years towards the more environmentally friendly and sustainable power options such as rechargeable electric cars (including solar), bio-diesel, ethanol fuel and cars with energy efficient features as standard.

Given the investment in research and development and selling power of the major manufacturers, it’s a good to see this quantum shift and response to the fuel crisis.  If the major car makers are pitching these vehicles as the way forward, it could be a sign of the times for the smaller manufacturers from around the world.

Nissan Pivo Concept

Nissan Pivo Concept CarThe Pivo is one of the most extreme concept cars, with Nissan pitching the ability of the entire passenger compartment to spin around.  It makes parking very easy, as the driver would be able to see all around and drive forwards into a parking space then rotate the cab and move away facing forwards too.  A video of the rotating Nissan Pivo is available on YouTube.  The Pivo’s tiny dimensions also help it shift around its intended city landscape and only 2.7m long and 1.6m wide.

The Pivo concept is by a Nissan made electric motor running from a single rechargeable lithium-ion battery, powering the car itself as well as electric sliding doors and cameras placed outside of the rotating cabin to provide a live feed to the driver.  The camera view is projected on an “around view” virtual screen on the pillars to generate a full 360-degree outside landscape.  The company says its egg-like machine, “examines the future potential of the electric vehicle in a city environment”.  Either way, it looks like it could be fun to drive … and park.

SAAB Aero-X Concept

SAAB Aero-X ConceptThe Aero-X from Saab is all about pure design and a beautiful two-seater sports coupe.  It features a rear opening cockpit canopy that replaces the doors and front pillars and light weight carbon fibre bodywork.  The lack of front pillars is based on the front nose of a Gripen aircraft and gives the driver a 180-degree views and Saab promises no doors, no keys and no hassles.  Plans for the car also feature 22inch wheels at the front with 23′s at the back, using jet-turbine inspired alloys designed to draw air around the brakes.

The power comes from a BioPower 2.8 litre V6 Turbo 24-valve over head cam, all aluminium engine that runs on bio-ethanol with an estimated power output of 400bhp.  The carbon fiber body work, light weight gearing and four wheel drive means that the Aero-X has achieved 0-62 mph in 4.9 seconds based on computer simulated trials – so would be like your own fighter jet on the ground.

VW EcoRacer Concept

VW EcoRacer Concept CarThe Volkswagen EcoRacer was first shown to the public at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show and incorporates the performance of a sports car with fuel-efficiency equal to the most fuel-efficient cars available at that time.  It’s weight of only 850kg and aerodynamic design allowing it to achieve high levels of fuel efficiency as well as high top speeds.  The EcoRacer accelerates from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 6.3 seconds using a 100 k/w turbo diesel engine. The top speed is 230 km/h (143 mph). The average fuel consumption is 3.40 liters per 100 km (69 miles per gallon).

The car provides a great deal of flexibility in terms of looks as the carbon-fiber plastic roof is completely removable, allowing drivers to interchange between speedster and roadster configurations within a matter of minutes.  When it is a coupe, wings in the roof lift up to make it easier to get in and out. And electromechanical technology lets you get in and go without a key.  Given that the project hasn’t progressed much since 2005 and the drop in car sales, it’s fairly unlikely that the EcoRacer will see the forecourts any time soon, sadly.

Peugeot 907 GT Concept

Peugeot 907 GT Concept CarThe Peugeot 907 concept car made its UK debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July 2006, demonstrated in the Supercar Run.  The GT Concept is a one-off carbon fibre concept, using a two-seater coupé grand touring car layout.  The carbon fibre bodyshell features an integral glass roof and front windscreen complementing a similar rear windscreen. Side vents are situated in the front wings and rear quarter panels, while a retractable rear spoiler is incorporated in the tailgate.

The Peugeot is powered by a 6.0-litre 500bhp V12 engine, visible through a glazed panel set into the bonnet revealing it’s twelve intake valves, and with a kerb weight of just 1400kg, it generates a power-to-weight ratio of 347bhp/tonne.  The interior is designed to provide comfort for two occupants and is trimmed in brown leather and light grey Alcantara trim. The steering wheel rim and the gear lever knob have real wood inlays.  It’s a shame the 907 GT Concept car is unlikely to become a reality, given that it’s exhibition at Goodwood could well be designed to draw attention to its latest models including the 207 hatchback and it’s other concept car, the race-inspired 207R Cup.

Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Air Concept

Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Air Concept CarIn an attempt to play catch up and produce a performance electric vehicle (EV) with broad market appeal designed to compete with Niche car makers such as Tesla, Mitsubishi have now stepped into the ring with their Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Air Concept.  Compared to other electric 2009 Geneva concept car reveals, the i MiEV Sport Air focuses more on green and less on performance, from its 81-horsepower motor.   The electric motor in the i-MiEV Sport Air Concept achieves 170lb-ft (230Nm) but the torquey powerplant isn’t the vehicle’s only performance aspect.  To lower the centre of gravity and increase driving stability the main EV system components (battery module, inverter, battery charger) are located as low as possible.

The Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Air Concept car is roughly the size of a Mini Cooper and features rear-drive and is light weight at under 997kg, constructed of mostly aluminum and uses plastic panels to reduce weight.  The concept is distinguished by its detachable ‘clear cutaway’ roof panel which brings a wide open feel to the interior. Other features include a second-generation lithium-ion battery module with improved electrodes.  The I MiEV is due for release in 2010, so the Sport Air Concept may well be the second generation of sportier electric car from the Japanese manufacturer.

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