Kia Niro
Kia Niro, Photo by Morgan Lord

Concept Cars from the Future

Concept cars have long been a means for automakers to showcase their creativity and innovation, and this year’s crop of futuristic designs continue that tradition. At this year’s Chicago Auto Show the concept cars had a magnetic quality—spectators couldn’t help but be pulled to their futuristic flair.

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Below, we take a look at five concept cars at the show, stocked with new technology, style and out-of-this-world design. Some of these cars may never actually make it to the assembly line, but they’re fun to look and learn about regardless:

Honda FCEV
Honda FCEV, Photo by Morgan Lord

1. Honda FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle): This concept car is part of Honda’s next generation of fuel-cell electric vehicles, generating energy from hydrogen. It dons an impressively fast refueling time of three minutes, with a range of over 300 miles. The style of the car merges aerodynamics with spaciousness: This low-slung futuristic ride can seat five adults.

2. Toyota FT-1: This race-car inspired ride was a major magnet at the show—talk of the concept car was abuzz throughout McCormick Place. The design is inspired by the looks of the 2000GT and the Scion F-RS, with dramatic fender forms and aerodynamic curves. At higher speeds, a rear wing ejects and tilts forward to add even more downward force. The location of the car’s cockpit was placed with speed in mind, too—it’s positioned to improve the weight distribution. This futuristic concept car is basically made to fly (down the road).

3. Kia Niro: This muscular-looking hybrid-electric concept made its debut at the Chicago Auto Show — which makes sense, as it’s made for trekking through the city. It’s equipped with a 1.6-liter Gamma engine that’s capable of 160 horsepower, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and tires with extra traction. The design is futuristic and sporty, with dihedral “butterfly” doors, front and rear towing hooks, and Plexiglas door mirrors with in-built downward-facing cameras. The driver can see live pictures from the video cameras mounted at the car’s front and rear, and in the door mirrors.

4. Mazda Club Sport 3: With its motorsport-inspired looks, the Club Sport will look like it’s speeding past you, even when it’s parked. That’s due to the angular lines custom painted on the car’s sporty yet sleek body. The five-door concept car is currently powered by a European 14.0:1 low-compression 2.2-liter clean diesel engine, but a North American engine will be available in 2015.

5. Toyota i-Road: This three-wheeled all-electric trike has the convenience of a motorcycle with the space of a small car; it seats two people tandem. Powered by an electric motor to the front-wheel drive, this electric trike is good for short trips around the neighborhood—it tops out at about 30 mph and has a driving range of 30 miles. It’s also fully enclosed for safety and weather protection. This concept comes equipped with a computer that helps manage the amount of leaning of each of the front wheels, plus a lean-reducing gyroscope.

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