Taking form inspiration from the 1901 35 PS, the first ever automobile to carry the Mercedes brand name, the Vision Mercedes Simplex concept is both a hat-tip to the past, and a signal towards the future. The Vision Simplex has an open-wheel design, made possible by fitting an electric powertrain in each wheel for a four-wheeled drive. The open-cockpit car is a driver’s dream come true, giving you and the passenger beside you the absolute thrill of driving with the wind in your hair. The car even features a minimalist dashboard, with just 5 simple elements. The radiator on the front resembles the 35 PS, but comes with a rose-gold lining and an interactive display on the front, emblazoned with the proud Mercedes logo. I particularly love the old-world combination of black and rose-gold, contrasted against the futuristic color-combo of white and electric blue! This car is truly a 21st century neo-steampunk automobile!
Well, it turns out that even BMW isn’t impervious to leaks, because these images of the iNext concept made their way around as early as 2 days before the launch! However, now that the car has formally launched, let’s look at what’s probably one of BMW’s most believable, palpable concepts yet. Building on the aesthetic of the Vision Next 100 concept that featured wild ideas like expanding wheel-bases and a body that could stretch along with the wheels.
As AI continues to become a stronger entity in our day-to-day lives, companies are moving to highlight their efforts in AI by either debuting new products, or concept, as is commonly done in the automotive industry. BMW too is embracing the future of vehicles (which is clearly self-driving cars and not flying cars) with the Vision iNext concept, a car that joins BMW’s i Series, but showcases what the company has in store for the future… which is the autonomous automotive. The company still believes the car should accommodate for a driver, if need be, as BMW Chairman Harald Krüger asks, “What does a vehicle look like which no longer needs to be driven by a person but can be if desired?”
The exterior borrows a lot from the Vision Next 100, with an authoritative exterior, the golden/copper hue, and the fragmented triangle design detail around the grill. It also features a unique looking double-kidney grill that’s actually connected at the middle, which in ways seems innately BMW-ish as well as ground-breakingly different. The kidney grill takes on more of a data-driven role, given that the iNext is completely electric, and acts as an “intelligence panel” housing various sensors critical to the autonomous driving experience. The windscreen extends all the way to the top, turning into a sun-roof, giving the interiors a more airy feel. On the inside lie two individual seats in the front plus a one-piece bench in the rear creating a relaxed ambiance for up to 4 people. The car, as mentioned earlier, comes with a self-driving mode but at the same time doesn’t do away with the driving console (like Volvo’s 360c), emphasizing the fact that the driver plays an important role in mobility and performance. The car, however, does borrow from tech companies by providing the service of an Intelligent Personal Assistant that responds to the prompt “Hey BMW”.
The iNext Concept is all set to be molded into reality as early as 2021. While the aesthetic may be subjected to a lot of change, the iNext’s focus on self-driving and its AI-driven experience will be much more interesting to observe!
Not one to be outdone by Motorola’s obsession with modularity, Mercedes-Benz showcased their vision for modularity in automobiles. The Urbanetic shows the company’s explorations in modular vehicles, where the car’s undercarriage is a separate entity that allows various vehicular bodies to plug on top of it, allowing it to transform from a self-driving minivan to a self-driving truck.
Its hyper-organic detailing aside (something I’m not really a fan of), the vehicle, or ‘mobility concept’ as its creators call it, comes with a skateboard-esque powertrain base that allows you to simply mount and swap bodies on top, giving you mobility for different scenarios when needed. While the very concept of having a one-powertrain-drives-all system sounds innovative and could definitely present a new era for mobility and manufacturing, it’s probably the execution that I personally have problems with. For instance, Mercedes-Benz could do so much more than making their minivan look like a bicycle helmet on wheels, and the truck look like a metallic loaf of bread. Other than that, a pretty innovative take on the future of transport, be it human or goods!
While most Aston Martin automobiles are designed to give you the sensation of flying while being safely grounded on four wheels against the asphalt, the Volante Vision concept may actually give you the power of flight. Debuted at the Farnborough Air Show this year, the Volante Vision is Aston Martin’s first foray into airplanes (coincidentally, Volante means Flying in quite a few European languages).
Designed to seat three people, the Volante Vision was made to provide fast, efficient and congestion-free luxurious travel in urban areas. With cities growing bigger and roads getting more congested, the British Automotive Maker believes in taking to the skies, after all, Aston Martin has always been about speed, luxury, and being a cut above.
The Volante Vision concept, a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing), occupies the space of four cars and comes with three propellers, Aston Martin’s sleek-yet-curvilinear outer body, and a comfortable interior that takes aircraft seating and turns it up a notch. Built with a hybrid-electric powertrain and self-piloting capabilities, the Volante was designed in partnership with Cranfield University, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, and Rolls-Royce.
Well, that’s a pretty classy way to beat the traffic.
Designer: Aston Martin