Wacky cars:part 2

Nissan Pivo2
Nissan introduced the first PIVO concept two years ago here in Tokyo, and perhaps what’s most surprising is that they decided to build a second one. The PIVO2 looks like it’d be a perfect mascot car for a baseball team, with its spherical passenger compartment sitting on a 4-wheeled platform. The wheels can be turned in any direction and the passenger compartment itself can spin 360 degrees. Each wheel is fitted with an electric motor with power coming from advanced lithium-ion batteries. Not only is PIVO2 friendly to the environment, it also takes care of its driver. A “Robotic Agent” is fitted into the dashboard that recognizes the facial images of the driver, providing not only useful information for vehicle operation, but also “speaks to you to cheer you up or to soothe you accordingly.” Don’t look for this car driving down public roads anytime soon, but its quite popular here in Japan.

Mazda Taiki

Look closely enough and Mazda’s Takai just about bridges the gap between fantasy and reality, and that alone puts it pretty close to the top of our concepts list. The latest in the evolutionary scale of Mazda concepts got started with the Nagare in Los Angeles and follows the theme of “flow” (which is what the Japanese word Nagare means). Takai looks like the kind of car that a superhero comic illustrator might draw in a 25th century cityscape — yet at the same time it looks as though it just might work. It’s all about line rather than technology, although there’s bound to be some of that under the swoopy skin, too. It unequivocally gets our vote because any car that takes inspiration from the flow of a celestial maiden’s robes and whose design process included leaving resin-impregnated strips of gauze literally to take on the shape of the wind deserves to be appreciated. Yes, it has an astonishing Cd of only 0.25, and zero aerodynamic lift all round, but in the end it just looks stunning

Suzuki PIXY

Stretching the definition of “car,” this highly maneuverable one-seater “personal mobility pod” is a vision of sustainable individual mobility for future cities and towns. It can be used by people who don’t drive cars for short, low-speed journeys. But for faster and longer commutes, two PIXYs can “pair” with — that is, drive into — the SSC (Suzuki Sharing Coach). That brings new meaning to the term “car sharing.” Powered by solar power and zero-emission hydrogen, PIXYs can even be used inside buildings and are designed to be “friendly to non-drivers and car users…not only a tool but a partner”

Nissan NV200

Designed as a work van of the future, the NV200 doesn’t look all that unusual in it’s standard configuration until you notice the “Attention: Pod Opens” stencil on the side panel. The pod in question is a large storage unit that slides out of the rear of the NV200, and is designed to be configured to whatever commercial or personal need necessary. Once the Pod has been extended, it provides easy access to tools, equipment, or whatever else the owner would like. The NV200 example on display featured all the gear one might need for underwater exploration and photography. The NV200 is rather advanced, but there are parts of this idea that we could see making it to production eventually.

Honda PUYO

Staying with the environmentally friendly theme that flows through this show, the PUYO concept is a small, four-passenger zero-emission electric car powered by Honda’s proven fuel-cell system. The fuel-cell stack fits into the floor, allowing for a roomy interior. But while the fuel-cell technology is quite advanced, that aspect was the most mainstream part of the PUYO. What makes this car unlike anything else we’ve seen is that it is designed to be a “seamless soft box.” And it is soft — the outer surface of the PUYO is made from silicon gel, which is not only more protective of any pedestrians that may get in the PUYO’s way, but it is meant to be touched, providing a “warm, friendly impression.” The PUYO’s skin is also luminescent, so lights can be hidden from sight until turned on. The interior features a similar material, allowing dashboard instruments to stay hidden until needed.

Suzuki BiPlane

This modern take on a ‘70s drag bike aims to capture the sensation shared by airplanes and bikes. The aerodynamic concept is inspired by the elevating feel riders get when accelerating through a long straightway — like an aircraft taking off. Biplane is powered by a 1,000cc, liquid cooled, 4-stroke DOHC, V-four engine, and it will certainly turn heads.

Suzuki X-Head

This cross-utility vehicle from Suzuki is a car to satisfy all of your Tonka toy fantasies. It is functional, fun and dependable, says Suzuki. Its greatest attribute is its ability to transform into many guises. By changing the load bed, X-head can become a camper for two adults, stylish urban mobility in Fashion guise or able to respond to emergencies in extreme environments when in Rescue mode

Mitsubishi i-MIEV Sport

This baby electric car concept from Mitsubishi is designed to show that a zero-emission car can look great and have a sporty feel. It has three electric motors, two of which are built into the wheels, and a convenient wireless charging system that uses microwaves. A limited number of (non-sporty) i-MIEV experimental cars are already on the road (even Mitsubishi’s company president uses one) and
Mitsubishi thinks the technology may be ready for series production as soon as 2010. The microwaves sound a bit ambitious, but otherwise we think it looks like a credible idea for a city car that’s practical, fun, environmentally friendly, and, perhaps, available in the not-too-distant future

Daihatsu Mud Master-C

The Mud Master-C is a small, tough transporter that is compact and lightweight but is designed with body-on-frame construction for durability and cargo capability. Outfitted as a mountain bike support vehicle, Mud Master-C was co-developed with Raita Suzuki, a leading professional cyclist. With large cargo doors on three sides, Mud Master-C offers excellent convenience and versatility for loading cargo or other uses. A hub reduction system driveshaft to the wheels and large off-road tires achieves exceptional ride height and approach angles. The interior features a simple instrument panel with a large LCD multi-display and the seats are water-repellent for rugged use.

Toyota i-Real

Chances are good that no one will see this cruising down the road anytime soon, but the i-REAL could shape what a personal mobility vehicle may be one day. This spaceship-like conveyance resembles a segway with a seat and looks like it would fit perfectly in Xbox’s famed Halo series. The i-Real rides on two wheels at the front and one in the rear. A perimeter monitoring system detects when a collision is imminent and warns the driver by noise and vibration. Love it or hate it, the i-REAL provides a glimpse at a possible future for personal transportation.

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