Concept vehicles or reality?
Exciting shape of things to come for future cars
The motoring world is changing fast as manufacturers rewrite the rulebook when it comes to construction, powertrains and technology for future cars.
Even prestige and performance brands, building luxury models and supercars, are driving the future and pushing the motoring boundaries with exciting concept vehicles that remain true to the ethos and heritage of their marque while breaking with the past by introducing lightweight materials, electrified power sources and a host of new thinking to improve efficiency and reduce their environmental impact.
Let’s look at some of the latest cars from prestige, premium brands at the top of their motoring game as well as the new trends in concept cars which are set to influence the way we drive and live with, and in, cars in the future.
Creating an entirely new and modern take on the Ferrari sports prototype concept is both ambitious and complex.
The new one-off P80/C ‘Hero Car’, conceived with very specific input from a Prancing Horse connoisseur client, combines the highest level of Ferrari interaction and emotional involvement.
The client’s basic brief was to create a modern sports prototype inspired by two iconic Ferraris – the 330 P3/P4 and 1966 Dino 206 S.
Started in 2015, and finished early 2019, the P80/C project had the longest development time of any Ferrari one-off with in-depth styling research, lengthy engineering development, meticulous analysis of performance parameters and scrupulous aerodynamic testing.
The P80/C is radically different from past one-off Ferraris – a track car with a unique design and radical changes to the donor car’s running gear.
Based on the 488 GT3 chassis, the longer wheelbase also allowed more creative freedom, emphasising a cab forward-effect and lengthened rear for a more aggressive, compact character.
Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion
Mercedes-Benz unveiled the F 015 Luxury in Motion, a research vehicle and vision of the future of autonomous driving, in 2015.
Designed from the outset as an autonomous car, this ‘City of the Future 2030+’ vision concept car created new possibilities in vehicle design, packaging and connectivity – a mobile living space rather than a mere means of transport making it one of the standout future concept cars.
The extremely rigid, lightweight body structure weighed 40% less than similar-sized cars at that time by using carbon fibre reinforced plastic, aluminium and steel.
About the same length as the long-wheelbase S-Class at 5.22m, but wider and taller, it boasted huge interior space, thanks to an exceptionally long wheelbase, to seat four adults in tandem or, being capable of driving itself, facing each other.
Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100
Rolls-Royce revealed how it sees the future of true luxury mobility by presenting the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 – codenamed 103EX – in 2016 to launch the centenary celebrations of owner BMW Group.
The marque’s first ever pure ‘Vision Vehicle’ is a radical vision of effortless, autonomous, connected, spacious and beautiful luxury mobility, as personal as each individual customer.
All-electric and completely autonomous, the customer’s Personal Vision will dictate how their Rolls-Royce will look. This is an uncompromised view of the future of luxury mobility that also embraces the luxury customer’s wish for the Effortless Journey –autonomous travel in a completely-connected, fully-autonomous vehicle.
Its chassis of the future, hand-built from the most advanced materials and powered by a zero-emissions powertrain, will underpin this vision. Advanced manufacturing technologies will enable customers to involve themselves even more in the design of the shape, size and silhouette of their personal Rolls-Royce vision, which Rolls-Royce would then manufacture to the customer’s specifications, making every model a unique bespoke masterpiece.
Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo
It’s a Porsche but not as you know it… and it’s an example of how new concept cars become reality.
Having wowed the 2018 Geneva motor show with the Mission E Cross Turismo concept study, a year later Porsche revealed it is going on sale late 2020 as the Taycan Cross Turismo.
This all-electric sports car for those with an active lifestyle has four doors, four individual seats and a Turismo rear end that provides even more space.
Compact electric motors, an underbody battery, no combustion engine, no exhaust system and no transmission tunnel meant Porsche could rethink the design to improve airflow for maximum performance.
A flat bonnet links it to the iconic Porsche 911, while distinctive rear wings and an extremely sporty fly line create a side view that is clearly Porsche despite its chunky off-roader design cues.
With the ability to do more than 500km on a single charge, and recharge to a range of 400km in just 15 minutes, it can show longer journeys a clean pair of heels too.
Lamborghini Terzo Millennio
The name says it all – this is the Third Millennium Lamborghini, the sports car of the future. This futuristic Terzo Millennio concept, developed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the first product of a three-year, £100,000,000 partnership, was unveiled in 2017.
Looking to rewrite the rules on super sports cars, this pure electric hypercar uses high-capacity supercapacitors, instead of batteries, due to their more rapid storage and discharge of energy. The creators are even investigating how electrical charge can be stored in the body panels, turning the car into a giant rechargeable battery, to maximise electrical energy retention.
Each wheel, with rims that glow orange, contains an electric motor. It means torque can be controlled individually so the car’s stability is as good as a Formula One racer.
Bentley EXP12 Speed 6e
Effortless, exclusive and exhilarating, Bentley’s EXP12 Speed 6e concept sees luxury customer demands met by Bentley levels of craftsmanship and refinement, combined with electric performance and grand touring capabilities.
Unveiled in 2017, Bentley’s vision includes rapid inductive charging and connected on-board concierge services. The EXP 12 Speed 6e concept, which also showcases future Bentley exterior and interior design direction, was used to gauge public and customer feedback to shape Bentley’s future luxury strategy.
Bentley’s vision is for customers to benefit from high-speed inductive and mains charging and provide enough range to cover the long distances needed for grand touring. An electric Bentley would be able to drive between London and Paris or Milan and Monaco on a single charge and the on-board experience would be enhanced for both driver and passenger thanks to the integration of state-of-the-art technology.
Aston Martin Vision Vanquish Concept
Aston Martin gave us the first glimpse of its debut series production mid-engined supercar, the Vanquish Vision Concept, at the 2019 Geneva motor show.
Showcasing the design language of the marque’s most ambitious model, it revives an iconic name traditionally reserved for Aston Martin’s flagship production model.
The advanced design study provides further evidence of the proudly British brand’s intention to compete in one of the most hotly-contested market sectors in the automotive world – one traditionally defined by Italian supercar makers – with this Gaydon-built offering.
Every aspect of the design and engineering is driven by weight, packaging and aerodynamic efficiency.
Maserati Alfieri concept
Maserati celebrated its centenary in 2014 by unveiling the Alfieri, a 2+2 concept car.
The exciting, realistic and 100% functional prototype heralded the design DNA of future Maseratis.
Named after Alfieri, the engineering genius and most prominent of the Maserati brothers, the concept car came at a time some people were thinking Maserati was starting to focus on producing sporty, premium four-door saloons. The Alfieri concept was a reminder of its racing heritage and exotic GT cars.
Representing the true essence of the Maserati brand, it is a sleek, Italian-style 2+2 like the 1957 3500 GT, 1959 5000 GT and 1969 Indy.
Backing up the performance of those looks was a 460bhp, 4.7-litre V8 engine mated to a super-quick six-speed, electro-actuated gearbox.
What started life as a concept, codenamed BP23, 2018, soon gained the name McLaren Speedtail and then prototype cars dubbed Albert after the legendary 1992 McLaren F1 supercar test mules, is due to reach its first lucky customers in early 2020.
All 106 models were sold, and sizeable deposits paid, months before the car was even unveiled.
The new petrol-electric hybrid hyper GT, the fastest ever McLaren and its Ultimate Series flagship, also has a three-seat cockpit with a central driving position like the McLaren F1.
With 1,050PS on tap, the prototype has been designed to reach 250mph
Production of the £1.75m McLaren Speedtail is due to start at the end of 2019 after a year of punishing testing in Europe, North America and Africa to achieve its destiny as the greatest McLaren road car ever.
From concept to film star. Jaguar’s stunning range-extended electric hybrid supercar concept, designed to celebrate the British brand’s 75th anniversary, was revealed in 2010.
The plan was for limited production between 2013 and 15, with an estimated price of £700,000 to £900,000, but it was cancelled due to the tough global economic climate. Five prototype cars had been produced and one appeared in the 24th James Bond film, Spectre, released in 2015, in a high-speed car chase with 007’s Aston Martin DB10 around the streets Rome.
Up to three of the prototype cars were sold at auction, one went to a future Jaguar museum and another was kept by Jaguar for demonstrations.
With its bonded aluminium chassis and body, the C-X75 concept was capable of 205mph flat out, 62mph from rest in 3.4 seconds and 100mph in 5.5 seconds
Tesla’s Roadster concept aims to be the quickest car in the world, with record-setting acceleration, range and performance.
Revealed in 2017, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk said it would be the fastest production car ever made.
The figures speak for themselves – 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds, which was quicker than any street legal production car when it was announced , 100mph in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of more than 250mph.
And this sleek, slippery, highly-aerodynamic all-electric, four-seater supercar also has a range of 620 miles.
The Tesla Roadster also features a lightweight, glass roof which can be removed and stored in the boot for that open-air, convertible driving experience.
An initial 1,000 Roadsters are available to reserve with the exciting new model due to arrive in 2020.
Alfa Romeo Tonale Concept
If you had to sum up the motoring world’s big trends electrification and SUVs fit the bill. And so does Alfa Romeo’s latest concept car, the Tonale, its first mid-size plug-in hybrid SUV.
This glimpse of future cars retains Alfa’s valued heritage in its design DNA including 21in telephone dial wheels which date back to the 1960s, when worn by the iconic 33 Stradale, while the ‘3 plus 3’ headlights evoke a proud gaze reflective of the SZ and Brera.
The four-seat Tonale’s D.N.A. drive modes become ‘Dual Power’ for maximum output from the electric and combustion engines, while ‘Natural’ automatically maintains the best performance balance and ‘Advance E’ is full electric mode.
The name comes from the Tonale Pass, which is not far from the Stelvio Pass in the Alps after which Alfa Romeo’s, larger, first SUV – with conventional turbo petrol and diesel engines – is named.
The Tonale is due to go on sale in 2021.
Bugatti 16C Galibier Concept
Bugatti’s 16C Galibier Concept was designed and engineered to be the fastest four-door saloon.
This luxury express, unveiled in 2009, was going to be powered by an 8.0-litre twin-supercharged engine with 16 cylinders– hence 16C – delivering more than 1,000PS via permanent all-wheel drive for a top speed of more than 235mpg.
On the design front, the 16C Galibier’s hood opens in two parts along a central hinge.
Galibier, a name used in Bugatti’s past, refers to France’s Col du Galibier mountain pass.
A £1m plus production version, called the Royale, was initially expected to go on sale in 2015 but the project was dropped in favour of the Bugatti Veyron’s successor, the Chiron. But there were later suggestions the Galibier project is still not dead in the water and might become a hybrid.
Why the sky’s the limit for concept cars as personal transport is set to take off?
Concepts and prototype cars have been part of the motoring scene,
in one form or another, for almost a century but have been going from objects of beauty to technical tours de force.
In the early days concept cars were more about extrovert styling to really stand out and features that were revolutionary at the time but we now take for granted. Now, if anything, the design of future cars are even more radical as manufacturers push the boundaries but it is often what you don’t see – let alone understand – that is driving the development of automotive technology. The buzzword for the latest cars is autonomous driving, hybrid sports cars that can drive themselves and negotiate traffic and other hazards by interpreting the common road behaviour of other drivers, electronic driver aids that intervene to avoid collisions and their impact and, of course, new forms of cleaner, greener power.
Most modern-day concepts will be using electrified powertrains, with better ranges and charging times, while conventional petrol and diesel is starting to make way for fuel cells. These electrochemical cells convert chemical energy of a fuel, often stored hydrogen, and oxygen from the air into electricity. Futuristic vehicles are now often built from lighter, stronger more rigid materials to save weight and improve fuel efficiently and can feature self-healing paintwork and body panels to repair small scratches and even dents. And they’re also shunning traditional interior design for living areas and versatile accommodation – why do you need to see where you’re going if the car is driving itself – while mirrors are replaced with cameras and display screens.
So what does the future hold for personal transport? Well, it seems the sky could be the limit with flying cars rather than flying carpets! And these flying concepts are already more than pie in the sky and could be the coolest cars in the world… assuming they make it all the way to becoming reality.
Terrafugia Transition flying car
Terrafugia built and flew its first Transition flying car in 2009 and a second version three years later. Now, with Terrafugia part of Chinese automaker Geely since 2017 along with Volvo and Lotus, production is due to get off the ground and sales start in 2019. Terrafugia was even taking pre-orders before it released the price.
The two-seater’s petrol-electric hybrid powertrain has a 400-mile range, a top speed of 100mph and it can fly at 9,000 feet. It changes from car to plane in a Transformers-like transition taking less than a minute. Terrafugia (Latin for ‘escape the earth’) considers it a street-legal aircraft – you need a pilot’s licence to fly one – rather than a car with wings.
The idea is to fly to a small airport or airfield, then drive to the final destination. And you won’t be grounded when the weather is too rough for flying.
Italdesign Airbus Pop.Up
Another vehicle that can fly and drive is the Italdesign Airbus Pop.Up.
Volkswagen Group’s Italdesign teamed with the aerospace company Airbus on a small two-person pod that can be fitted to either a battery-powered, completely autonomous four-wheeled chassis for road driving or a four-propeller flying module for short flights.
A refined, lighter and more aerodynamic design, Pop.Up Next, was displayed at the Geneva motor show in 2019 under VW’s Audi brand although it is not production-ready.
The dominant interior feature is a 49in screen while humans interact with the machine by speech and face recognition, eye-tracking and a touch function.
Aston Martin Volante Vision Concept
Aston Martin’s Volante Vision Concept is a luxury concept aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing.
Revealed in 2018, and produced in partnership with Cranfield University, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Rolls-Royce, the concept aircraft aims to bring luxury personal transportation to the sky. With room for three adults, the concept is a near future study that previews a flying autonomous hybrid-electric vehicle for urban and inter-city air travel – fast, efficient and congestion-free.
How the market has changed
Just as concept cars have changed over time, investors in classic and prestige cars has also seen many changes through the years. We asked acknowledged expert Dr Vincent van der Vinne, author of ‘Investing in Cars’, to share his insights into how the market has changed
Where are the growth areas in the market?
I would mention two areas of growth, one well known, the Youngtimers and another one not so well known, the pre-1914 vehicles with large engines.
Youngtimers are the cars that are now about 30 years old. Between February and April 2019, RM Sothebys have auctioned a private collection of over 140 modern classics and future collectibles, mainly from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, the so called ‘Youngtimer Collection’.
Some of the results show the potential of growth for these vehicles – /blog/rm-sothebys-the-youngtimers-collection/.
When we look at pre-1914 cars with large engines, an interesting picture emerges. On the face of it, these are going to be slow in growth value – in fact in the past years their value hasn’t grown a lot. But if you look at the last 20 years, the growth is massive.
Do some cars always bring better returns than others?
Generally speaking, sports cars and sporty looking cars bring better returns than saloons.
Are some marques simply more iconic and therefore popular?
Yes, there are marques that are more popular due to their heritage and image, however this can change with time.
For example, in the 1980’s Aston Martin cars weren’t great, so the image of the brand had to suffer from that. However, after Ford took over, the quality improved, therefore the interest in the brand increased, which led to an uplift in brand image. This, in turn, was a factor in driving up the sales and interest for their classic models as well.
An investment opportunity – maximising the gains of a prestige car as an investment opportunity
What would you say is the appeal of investing in prestige and classic cars?
Well, that’s easy! In comparison to other assets, you can actually enjoy your investment – you can drive it around, you get to take care of it and show it around so others can admire it. And even if the value drops, you can still make the most of it.
By contrast, if you invest in wine for example, you can’t really enjoy it – if you decide to drink it, you lose your investment!
You can also invest for instance in art, but you can only look at it. A classic Ferrari can be driven on the road, you can really enjoy the experience and go back in time to when the car was manufactured.
How does it compare to other investments?
If you look at the past 20 years, classic cars have been one of the best investments. The price value of the rare and classic cars went up far more than the stock market, gold or art market.
Even if you look at the past, let’s say 3 years, you can see that the classic car market has been quite stable – some cars went up in value, others down, while some stayed more or less the same. If you look at the value of gold, from 2000 to 2018, the average price went up 4.5 times – from $279 in the 2000 to $1268 in 2018.
If you look at current stock market FTSE100, and compare December 2000 to December 2018, stocks overall value are up just by 1.08%. However if you look at sports cars, such as classic Aston Martins, Ferraris or classic Mercedes Benz, the value went up in general 8 to 10 times.
Is there a typical investor profile?
Generally speaking, men over 40 years old with an interest in cars and with money to invest tend to buy more classic, exclusive cars.
How has the investor profile changed?
That’s a difficult question, because while there have been some changes, some things have remained constant. It is fair to say however, through the years, we can see new trends emerging, with collectors being interested in different models.
Buying cars is a very personal experience, so lots of collectors tend to buy the cars that they were dreaming off when they were young, which typically means cars that are 20-30 years old. This will influence the type of cars that are popular.
When it comes to younger entrepreneurs, they usually tend to buy new or modern cars, such as the new Maseratis and Lamborghinis. If they consider buying a classic car, again you will find the same trend and they will buy the car that is about 15-20 years old – the car from the poster they had up on the bedroom wall as kids!
When it comes to investing in prestige or classic cars, are people swayed by the marque or by the numbers?
Firstly, people are mostly interested in buying a certain marque – you will often find that brand affinity comes first and after that they will see which car from that manufacturer they can afford to buy.
Dr. Vincent van der Vinne (1964) is a Dutch historian and writer, who completed his PhD on the rise of the motorcar. He has been studying the history of cars and car use for more than 25 years, and has published various books on the subject.
Dr Van der Vinne has worked for the “Nationaal Automobiel Museum” (nowadays known as the “Louwman Museum”), Autotron Rosmalen and Automusa.