Concept Cars, Connected Mobility and the World’s Fastest Electric Car

Thierry Brearley
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On: 21 Sep 2017
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IAA 2017 Connected Cars

The Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) – also known as the Frankfurt Motor Show – has been an annual event in Germany for over 100 years. A century ago, car manufacturers were focused on comfort. Today tells a very different story.

This year, some of the world’s biggest automakers, including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz revealed some seriously cool vehicles and innovation, and the focus was very much on connectivity and automation.

We were lucky enough to attend and get the lowdown on the latest in concept car technology and the world debuts soon to be leaving the production line.

Connectivity is the Key to Tomorrow’s Mobility

Connectivity within and around the vehicle was a central theme at this year’s show. Seamless, real-time connectivity between vehicles, drivers and services may be a few years away, but most exhibitors were showing some form of this technology, with many products and services already launched or in the final testing phases.

When connectivity and mobility combine it makes for a safer and more efficient drive and exciting new possibilities for automakers.

Defining the Future of Mobility

One of the big highlights for us was the New Mobility World forum. Manufacturers took to the stage to showcase their latest developments and to give demonstrations on the future of mobility. IBM and Moovit showed us how urban mobility can be improved through the gathering of big data. We saw Uber speak about their vision for the future of transport, including an on-demand vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft that will make for quicker commutes, cleaner air and less traffic congestion. We were also treated to a number of alternative transport concepts, such as PAL-V’s Liberty – a road vehicle that is also a gyrocopter and can take to the air in moments. Where once flying cars were the stuff of dreams, they are now looking more viable than ever.

Sit Back, Relax and Arrive

Automation was all around us at IAA, as you can expect. One of the most far-out vehicles at the show was the Audi Aicon, and it’s easy to see why. This vehicle is entirely driverless and with the removal of pedals, the steering wheel and gearstick, doesn’t even give you the option to take over. While that may seem more terrifying than liberating right now, this vehicle is designed to be the “autonomous luxury saloon of the future” and to offer true door-to-door service while you sit back and relax in the “luxurious ambience of a first-class airline cabin”.

Electric Dreams

The shift to electrification is without a doubt one of the biggest changes that the automotive industry has seen in the last 100 years. After spending so long refining the petrol engine, automakers at last set their sights on more sustainable ways to get around. Another concept car – but one which is most likely to be made into a real car – is the BMW i Vision Dynamics. Offering a top speed of 120mph and a range of 600km on one full charge, this is an electric car for the driver who doesn’t want to compromise on power or distance.

Staying with the all-electric vehicles, one of the most impressive concept cars to feature at the show was the Aspark Owl from Japan. Yes, it might have a strange name, but with a promised acceleration of 0-62mph in 2 seconds, we’ll stop laughing if it turns out to be true. If it is true, it will be the fastest accelerating road vehicle of any kind, anywhere in the world. At this point we’re remaining sceptical. While that type of electric power is possible, it remains to be seen whether the Owl will offer a realistic driving range.

Driving Change One Vehicle at a Time

From controlling our smart homes from the driver’s seat to predictive diagnostics and connected parking, the infrastructure to support these new technologies will need to be in place and connection speeds will need to continue to improve. While it may take a few years to experience the truly connected, automated vehicle in the mainstream, we are on our way there and it promises to be quite a ride.

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