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.
Nabbing a prime parking spot is sometimes called ”rockstar parking.” That’s what we say in my car, anyway. A smart sensor system rolling out in London could mean rockstar parking for all.
Who doesn’t loathe circling packed city streets on a busy night trying to find any open parking space? It wastes time and increases pollution, not to mention blood pressure levels. So city counselors in London are trying something new: a parking sensor system that shows drivers exactly where to find an open spot.
The system, made by the firm Smart Parking, works with infrared sensors called SmartEye that are embedded into parking spaces. Each sensor can tell whether a vehicle is present on top. These sensors are connected to a ParkRight smartphone app that displays a real-time map and directs the driver to an available space, The Telegraph’s Sophie Curtis reported.
A smaller trial of the system on five London streets ended up being so successful that the Westminster City Counsel just approved a larger trial. The first phase involves retrofitting parking spots with 3,000 sensors starting this month. If all goes well, another 7,000 will go in, according to Smart Parking. The Guardian reported that the city is also considering a prepaid parking card to make the process even faster.
Drivers in Westminster spend an average of 15 minutes hunting for a space, the City Counsel told the BBC. Until the city makes that bike highway, these sensors could cut down on pollution and quell mounting frustration behind the wheel. It’s practically a virtual valet.
Photo: SmartEye sensors like the ones in Taupo, New Zealand, are coming to London. Credit: Smart Parking Ltd