Cars are like animals, they’re always evolving and adapting to this ever-changing world we live in. In recent years, we have seen electric cars take over the roads, hydrogen cars clean up the air, technology somehow getting even cooler (our cars literally talk to us now), and car designs getting sleeker, cleaner, smaller, larger, brighter… you get the point.
So, where do all these new cars originate from? How do manufacturers know a car will be a success, or that a new design will be accepted by the very critical general public? Well, that’s where concept cars come in.
What is a Concept Car?
A concept car is basically a way for car brands to show off what they’re capable of, competing against one another to create new cars packed full of new features, styles, and technology. They are usually revealed at motor shows to gain a live reaction from the audience - the more shock-value, the better.
Concept cars are very rarely the final product that we see on the road. Following the reaction from the audience, manufacturers will take the pros and cons, and create a more road-worthy, less bizarre vehicle for the public to buy or lease. Concept cars are, put simply, concepts. Sort of like a first draft for a blog, like the one you’re reading. The final product is always different from the original.
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Concept cars have been around since 1938, the first being the Buick Y-Job. Coined the ‘dream car’, it was a stylish vehicle that paved the way for future cars, allowing automobiles to be lower and longer, and it even had nifty hidden headlamps!
However, since the Y-Job, concept cars have come a very long way. In this blog, we are going to look at the weird, wacky, and wonderful variety of concept cars we have seen in recent years.
Volkswagen Sedric School Bus (2018)
Yes, this is, in fact, a car. Volkswagen revealed this bizarre bus as part of the Group Night at the Geneva Motor Show to show the general direction VW plan to go in for the future of urban driving, going for sustainable, comfortable, and, most importantly, safe.
The exterior is, in a word, different. The only feature that resembles the traditional American school bus is the bright yellow, but that’s where tradition ends. The Sedric School Bus now looks more like a bumblebee crossed with a monorail on four wheels (yes, there are wheels hiding behind those large black crosses.
It doesn’t stop there, the interior of the Sedric School Bus is just as futuristic! The bus is capable of carrying 4 to 5 passengers, no driver needed! That’s right, this thing is 100% autonomous. The idea behind it being that parents call the bus when the kids are ready for school, and the bus automatically makes its way to their house, then to school! Futuristic or what? If I took this cool little pod to school every day, I might have actually wanted to go!
Mercedes-Benz Vision Avtr (2021)
If you thought the Sedric School Bus was crazy, then prepare to have your mind blown, because the Mercedes-Benz Vision Avtr has entered the building. This sleek supercar is the embodiment of everything Mercedes-Benz stands for. Style, speed, and serious splendour.
Teaming up with the team behind the sci-fi film Avatar, Mercedes-Benz refers to the Vision Avtr as “Extremely confident - and completely without emissions.” Which seems to be a regular occurrence with these concepts. This pure electric future machine has a combined engine power of more than 350 kW and a swift charging time of about 15 minutes!
One of the Vision AVTR’s craziest features is an innovative all-wheel drive, meaning that each wheel can be driven separately… somehow. This feature gives the car the ability to move sideways, giving it a crab-like appearance that brings the car to life.
Speaking of being alive, the Vision Avtr has 33 “bionic flaps” (integrated solar panels) on its back, giving it a reptilian look that, although cool, gives the car a slightly creepy vibe.
The madness doesn’t stop there, because the interior of the Vision AVTR looks like a UFO! With a spacious room for four, the inside of this spaceship is nothing like you’ve ever seen before. Decorated with colour-changing fabric (yes, you read that correctly), seats made from vegan leather, and no steering wheel, the car is controlled via a futuristic-looking ‘centre control’ that, when placing your hand upon it, brings the car to life and recognises the driver by their BREATHING. If this is what the future holds for our car, then the roads are going to look very different!
Peugeot Instinct (2017)
Some concept cars clearly reflect a brand, and the Peugeot Instinct is a perfect example of this. In recent years, Peugeot has gone above and beyond to compete with the likes of Ford and Volkswagen with their new sleek style. With the 208 voted as ‘European Car of the Year’, they are definitely on the rise to stardom! Where did this newfound style come from? Well, the Instinct has some noticeable similarities that seem to have shaped the future of the Peugeot brand.
Compared to the other concept cars on this list, the Peugeot Instinct is the most ‘normal’, but that doesn’t mean it’s basic. Oh no, this rechargeable hybrid is in a class of its own. Announced during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Instinct design symbolised the direction that Peugeot was heading in, such as the sporty silhouette and distinct headlights, now a recognizable part of Peugeot’s brand.
The concept itself includes on-board I.o.T which allows the car to learn and adapt to your lifestyle, automatically changing its setting to better suit your needs - basically turning itself into your loyal companion. Its exterior is a magnificent sci-fi deep blue that works seamlessly with the smooth streamline design and bold black wheels.
The interior of the majestic Instinct is just as sleek. Like the Sedric School Bus, this concept has the ability to become autonomous, so the roomy interior has been designed to feed the demand for spacious self-driving cars in the future.
Renault 5 (2021)
Renault's mission statement is “to enrich the lives of our customers through our people, products, and services by setting best practices in everything we do.” We have seen reliable cars such as the Clio, Zoe, and adorable Twingo come from Renault. Now, the French brand wants to push themselves a step further, whilst maintaining their roots. The result? The Renault 5!
Giving off ‘1972 Renault 5’ vibes, the new fully electric concept is a quirky little hatchback designed to bring Renault into a new era, showing off their evolution over the years in regards to tech, style, and service. However, unlike other concepts on this list, the Renault 5 has actually been confirmed for production, expected to be on our roads, along with seven other fully electric cars, by 2025!
Volkswagen ID Buzz (2017)
Volkswagen is back at it again with another wild concept car to surprise us with. It’s not quite as odd as the Sedric, but it's just as cool. Instead, they’ve gone in the same direction as the Renault 5 - taking a classic and reinventing it. This time, it’s everyone's favorite Volkswagen Camper, revamped to create… the ID Buzz!
Once again, one of the primary features of this concept camper is electromobility, and shaping the future to become cleaner, and safer. The ID Buzz has kept some distinctive characteristics we all know from the classic camper, the colour design, overall shape, and classic VW logo front and centre. It also has some similarities to other VW concepts such as the Sedric, such as the fluorescent yellow and overall cute-futuristic combo.
The ID Buzz has a secret storage area in the hood, a large iPad to replace all controls, and a steering wheel that can retract into the dashboard if you need more room! Speaking of which, this bad boy can fit six people, and its seats can be moved around to practically turn it into a living space (the back seats are basically a sofa!)
The Buzz has an average range of 300 miles, so it can reach the beach from anywhere in the UK on a single charge! It also comes in van form, called the ID Buzz Cargo, setting the expectations high for the electric cars of the future.
Concept cars are always coming out, and they never fail to add a fun, albeit strange twist to the motoring world. Some are more peculiar than others, and it’s very exciting to see what we could be driving (or driving itself) in the future. Do you have a favourite concept car we haven't mentioned? Let us know!