Auto shows are great for getting a glimpse into the future of the car market but, unfortunately, the coolest, most imaginative, most innovative concepts and designs often remain on the drawing board. Indeed, the automotive industry is a tough business and there’s only a small segment of the market willing or able to splurge on limited-production ultra-luxury cars. So, here are six futuristic concept cars we wish we could buy right now.
The ultimate litmus test for whether or not you’re living in the future is whether or not there are flying cars zipping through the skies. Well, here’s some good news: We’re getting really close. The TF-X from Terrafugia (pictured) will be a street legal plug-in hybrid car that has collapsible wings, retractable propellers, and is capable of driving and flying on its own in the event of an emergency.
Let’s face it: Electric cars are the future. There will, inevitably, be a time in which fossil fuels are too expensive and precious to waste on grocery store runs. In the meantime, however, super-efficient gas-powered vehicles will be a trend. And this is one trend that can’t catch on soon enough.
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Sure, steampunk has become a popular aesthetic amongst sci-fi aficionados, but could steam-powered cars really play a role in the future of transportation? It’s a long shot, but in a future where efficiency and fuel conservation are primary concerns, odd alternatives like steam could play a role.
Smartphone on Wheels
Increasingly, car companies are working to close the gap between the technology on the road and the technology in our pockets—but they still have a long way to go. Concepts like the Toyota Fun-Vii, however, show a glimmer of that interactive, intelligent, driving future.
Everyone loves the growl of a powerful super car, but we all have to admit that one design does not suit every application. Life in a city, or habitual short-trip driving demands a very different vehicle than, certainly, the race track. This growing use case presents different requirements, though, than even the majority of sedans. Microcars are a smart solution to these real-world problems.
So what would happen if we stuck high-speed trains to the side of a skyscraper? Two designers think this vertical flip will create save space on land and increase transportation capacity.
This unusual transportation concept, called the Hyper-Speed Vertical Train Hub, comes from British designers Christopher Christophi and Lucas Mazarrasa. Their idea is to put a high-speed rail station in a skyscraper. Trains would shoot down the sides of the building into underground tunnels to their destinations. Hat tip to Inhabitat’s Bridgette Meinhold.
Although the design looks like an amusement park ride for corporate commuters, it calls for train cars that pivot like ferris wheel seats so everyone stays upright as the train moves between vertical and horizontal positions. Each car would hold 10 people in two rows facing each other.
Instead of running around to catch your train — I’m looking at you Penn Station — you’d take an elevator to a specific floor. Each terminal would have its own set of elevators to increase efficiency. If it ever gets built, the designers say this would be the skyscraper dedicated entirely to public use.
This is such a gorgeous design that I’m not surprised it received an honorable mention in eVolo Magazine’s 2014 Skyscraper Competition. But the longer I look at the renderings, the more my palms begin to sweat. Maybe it’s virtual vertical train vertigo.
Image: The Hyper-Speed Vertical Train Hub concept. Credit: Christopher Christophi and Lucas Mazarrasa via eVolo.