The Tokyo Motor Show finishes up this Wednesday, and if there’s a takeaway, it’s that cars are about to get a lot smaller and a lot shinier. Nissan’s big concept offering was the Land Glider, a motorcycle/car hybrid that leans into turns like a motorcycle and, more importantly, does away with the passenger side entirely. If you’ve got a guest—or groceries, for that matter—they’ll be riding in back.
Last week’s Frankfurst auto show dug up some pretty awesome concept models—including a few standouts from VW and our French chariot of choice, Citroën—but our favorite was this electric one-seater (hat tip to NotCot) whipped up by E-Wolf and the Technical University of Dresden.
Dubbed the E1, it’s a pretty strange bird, but the specs may be the strangest part of all. It’s made from lightweight carbon fiber instead of metal, so the entire package weighs in at 991 pounds—and 600 of those are from the Li-Tec battery used to power it all. It does 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds, with the same evenly torqued acceleration that’s currently turning heads at Tesla. Best of all, it’s actually going into production, albeit in “very low numbers,” and with a $220,000 price tag. Suddenly, that segway’s looking pretty stingy.
Now that car shapes are tending towards a single aerodynamic ideal, it’s nice to see a wacky concept car with no hope of ever reaching the assembly line. This one, called the Type 57 Atlantic, comes from Bugatti, which seems to be showing a fondness for Art Deco curves lately.
Lately, we’ve been worried that the looming collapse of the auto industry might provoke some kind of belt-tightening—maybe even cut back on some of those pipe dreams that could never possibly be produced. But what would we do without our precious concept cars?
Well, there are still a few of them kicking around. This Cadillac model is called the World Thorium Fuel concept (aptly referred to as “WTF”) and it’s designed to run for a full century without maintenance…besides adjusting the tires every few years. There’s a nuclear reactor in the back to keep fuel going, and every major system is redundant, so it should be the best car in the world long after we’re all in Mad Max territory—if it ever gets built, that is.
Until then, we’ll just have to make do with non-nuclear cars.
Concept cars occupy a strange corner of the auto industry. It’s taken for granted that they’ll never be seen outside an auto show. Their influence on the cars that actually reach the road is barely perceptible. It might as well be an art project.