With the price of gas steadily climbing around the country, more and more drivers are looking forward to the next wave of cars that will look great, serve their needs, and save them money at the pump (or take them away from the pump). At auto shows around the country this past year, more and more auto makers were showing concept cars that were green, ones that used little to no gas. Here are a few of those cars that you may be driving in the next five years.
Offering a sleek style and futuristic look, the Mazda Nagare features gull-wing doors that open up to reveal space inside for four passengers, with the driver sitting front and center, and three passengers sitting in the rear lounge style seat. While Mazda hasn’t confirmed exactly what type of drive-train will be used on the Nagare, they have said that it could use a hydrogen-powered rotary engine. No time table or production numbers have yet been given for the Nagare, as Mazda is currently using it mostly as a design experiment.
A third generation concept from the Tokyo auto show, the UFE-III features three seats (a 1 + 2 configuration), and an aerodynamic body that is part of the root of its fuel economy. Powered by a diminutive 660cc Atkinson 3 cylinder engine and two electric motors, the UFE-III has a fuel economy of 203 miles per gallon. It’s unclear if this car will ever be seen in the United States, but the design and fuel economy are exactly that US drivers are currently looking for.
GM Saab Aero X
Taking a cue from their aviation roots, Saab has created a concept car without traditional doors, instead opting for a canopy opening similar to what one would find on a fighter jet. This two seater is made from lighter materials to help with fuel economy, and uses ethanol instead of standard gasoline to fuel its 400-hp twin turbo V6 engine. No word on when or if this car will ever see production, but more than one car enthusiast is already drooling over the possibility.
Featuring an electric powertrain that can quietly propel the car to a top speed of 85mph, the Volvo 3CC is what many drivers are starting to look forward to – a car that doesn’t rely on gasoline. Initially designed with 3 seats (2 in the front, one in the back), the current design is offering a more traditional four seat layout, while maintaining the futuristic look of many concept cars, including upswing doors for easy entrance. Included in this concept car, are added safety features such as steering wheel, instrument panel, and foot pedals that all shift forward during a collision to reduce impact.
Taking a page from the classic airstream trailers, the Ford Airstream pays homage with its classic colors and body design, all the while offering a family car for the next century. Powered by an electric fuel cell that gets the equivalent of 41 miles per gallon, the Ford Airstream can travel 25 miles before the fuel cells kick in to recharge the lithium ion batteries that give power to operate the car. With a screen for entertaining and setting the mood inside the car, this is a family vehicle that looks great and is great for the environment. Ford hasn’t said whether you’ll be able to find this at your local dealership yet (be that a Kansas Ford dealership or someplace in California), but with the demand for family vehicles that are environmentally friendly, be on the lookout for it in the near future.
A sports car for the next century, the Toyota FT-HS features seating for between two and four passengers (depending on whether or not the roof is retracted), and 400-hp or engine output from its Hybrid Synergy Drive. With a dedicated drivers cockpit that has all of the instruments and readings necessary centered on the driver, this sports car features sleek lines to help reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. Toyota hasn’t said when or if the FT-HS will see production, but do keep an eye out for some of its features to start appearing in Scions.
One of the closer vehicles to seeing production, the Honda FCX features a fuel cell system, but that’s only the start of what makes this concept so impressive. Speed sensitive adjusting instrument panels move according to speed to be more effective, biometric systems adjust the mirrors, wheel, and pedals to your settings as you approach the vehicle, and line of sight operated switches allow you to control things like audio and air conditioning without removing your hands from the wheel. All of this, coupled with a spacious interior made from new-age light-weight materials and you have a vehicle that provides 21st century technology and green efficiency into a vehicle that suits the needs of most drivers.
Looking to see production in 2010, the Chevy Volt drew rave reviews at the most recent car shows due to its design and E-Flex propulsion system that utilizes a combination of plug-in electricity and gasoline to provide a car that can attain an estimated 640 miles on a single tank of gas. All of this on a car that is rumored to range in price from $20,000 to $35,000.
With most people commuting less than 40 miles, Chevy designed the Volt to travel up to 40 miles without using a single drop of gas, and then using gas only to recharge the batteries that actually move the wheels. With space for five and a futuristic design that is both appealing and aerodynamic, the Volt is well on its way to being the first of many vehicles that are environmentally friendly and stylish at the same time.
More to Come
Every year more and more manufacturers are offering concept cars that are stylish, spacious, and fuel efficient to a more and more demanding public. While this is certainly not a comprehensive list of green concept cars, there will certainly be more shown in the years to come.