The automotive future starts next year when the Volkswagen Group begins in earnest its plan to make the battery electric car a mainstream choice.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019 First drive : 2020 Skoda Octavia prototype | Sky UAE Autos Any new version of Czech brand’s biggest selling model has to succeed.
Skoda ’s pure-electric future has been overshadowed by the fanfare around VW’s imminent ID. range of EVs. But, as we potter tentatively around a sunny Czech car park in the striking Vision iV concept, it seems like the understated, ‘sensible’ brand is inching closer to its German counterpart when it comes
Not that VW has much choice in the matter. After the battering from dieselgate (which is still ongoing four years later) it, like all car makers selling into the European market, has to dramatically reduce the average Co2 output of its fleet of cars. What was a tricky task was made massively more difficult the destruction of the credibility of diesel as a fuel.
VW has the advantage of holding a number of automotive brands, which should allow it to shift more electric vehicles than rivals, even if that means differentiating between, say, a VW and Skoda electric is more important than it’s ever been.
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With that in mind, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised by my first view of Skoda’s first production model, the Vision iV, in the flesh - albeit in concept form. Despite being based on the same MEB electric ‘skateboard’ as the recently-unveiled VW ID3, the Vision is a significantly different vehicle.
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The Škoda Vision iV is an all-electric SUV coupé under development by Škoda Auto. It is the second development stage of the Škoda Vision E and the last step prior to series production that is planned to be started from the second half of 2020 .
The VISION iV concept car boasts all-wheel drive and two electric motors outputting 225 kW While VISION iV is a concept, ŠKODA says the car “offers a concrete preview of ŠKODA ’s first That car is also said to be close to a final product, with a production version coming to market as soon as 2020 .
It’s especially odd to view something so self-consciously futuristic at night in front of a elaborately decorated Victorian entrance to a natural hot water spa. But the location in this noted Czech town is a perfect foil for the Vision iV, which Skoda described as being '90% +’ the final production car.
Gallery: The most important concept cars ever created (Autocar)
Too often, the term ‘concept car’ is now used to describe a thinly veiled production model that’s about to hit showrooms.
But it wasn’t always like that; there was a time when the description was reserved for the most cutting-edge designs that showed just how fertile an imagination could be.
Here we take a look at more than eight decades of some of the most forward-thinking, influential concept cars ever created, but even with 10 times as many entries we could only ever hope to scratch the surface. Enjoy the ride:
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Buick Y-Job (1939)
General Motors’ Y-Job is now considered to be the world’s first concept car; it wasn’t, as that title going to the Volvo Venus Bilo of 1933. But the Y-Job did make GM’s design boss Harley Earl famous.
Undeniably forward-thinking, the Y-Job featured hidden headlights, electric windows and a powered roof, concealed under a hard tonneau, and setting out overall design cues for American cars that would emerge after World War Two.
Buick LeSabre (1951)
For an encore to his Y-Job, Harley Earl (pictured) came up with the LeSabre, which perfectly captured the optimism of the jet age and America’s long post-war boom. Sitting a foot lower than contemporary production cars, the 335bhp V8-equipped LeSabre came with a wrap-around windscreen, hidden headlights and huge tailfins that set a trend for America’s Big Three throughout the 1950s.
It also incorporated a powered roof that could be activated automatically in the event of rain. It also brought in a fashion for jet-age American concepts - and production cars - that would last for over a decade. So strap yourself in for the next few cars in this story:
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The ŠKODA VISION iV can be driven autonomously at level 3. This means it can completely take The VISION iV is perfectly aligned with the needs of modern society and fully integrates ŠKODA ’s first model to be based on Volkswagen Group’s MEB modular electric car platform will follow in 2020 .
Oldsmobile Starfire (1953)
Taking its name from the contemporary Lockheed F-94B Starfire jet fighter, this concept featured a plastic bodyshell – something that was revolutionary at the time.
In the same year, GM stablemate Chevrolet would launch its plastic-bodied Corvette and more than six decades later there would still be a ‘Vette in the GM line-up; indeed, a new mid-engined model has recently been unveiled.
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Ford XL500 (1953)
With push-button automatic transmission the XL-500 was supposed to provide effortless driving. The goldfish bowl problem presented by all that glass would be resolved by the then emerging technology of air conditioning that it featured.
Standard equipment also included a telephone and built-in jacks in the event of a puncture.
Alfa Romeo BAT 5 (1953)
America didn’t have the concept car monopoly. Italian design house Bertone produced a range of groundbreaking concept cars during the 1950s, of which this is perhaps the most striking. The concept pursued extreme aerodynamics – it had a Cd drag coefficient of just 0.23 - and light weight to move the envelope of the possible.
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Smooth, refined saloon adopts Passat GTE’s plug-in hybrid powertrain for economy and performance boostsThe car moves off the mark on electricity and the engine chimes in only after you show it, via the accelerator, how much power you need. Drive normally in the selectable EV mode and it will proceed very quietly. This will suit many owners’ drive-to-work applications so well that some will visit a filling station only every month or two. From an ordinary household plug, the car's battery takes about five hours to charge. A wallbox will do it in about half that time.
SKODA - Vision iV . Stand. 2160. An idea of Skoda 's first electric vehicle. Based on VW's MEB platform and designed to provide a WLTP range of up to 500 km. An electric motor on each axle makes the Vision IV a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Prototype .
Gallery: 2020 Skoda Octavia Combi new spy photos. That being said, we’re getting the feeling the Octavia IV will have a more upscale appearance once the disguise will come Finally ditching the old-school handbrake lever, the new Octavia prototype had an electric parking brake showing Skoda ’s
It succeeded; despite a modest 100bhp engine, this 1100kg car could deliver a 120mph top speed. The BAT 7 the next year had a drag co-efficient of just 0.19.
Buick Wildcat II (1954)
With its ‘flying-wing’ front end and glassfibre construction the Wildcat II was definitely a car of the future when it appeared in 1953 – the same year as the original Corvette. Focus on the centre section of this concept and you can see how similar it is to the earliest ‘Vettes.
De Soto Adventurer II Coupé (1954)
The brief with this one was to come up with something super-slippery rather than ostentatious. As a result the Adventurer’s clean lines are very understated but those afterburner-inspired tail lights give a hint of what was to come with later Chrysler concepts.
Ford FX Atmos (1954)
The FX stood for Future Experimental, those spears on the front were aerials to help control the car to stop it running into vehicles in front, and the ‘Atmos’ was taken from atmosphere, which Ford said “came from free and unlimited creative thinking”.
With a glass canopy, seating for three and a pair of aircraft-style fins, this was truly a jet-age - or even space-age - design.
GM Firebird I (1954)
The first of three General Motors Firebird concepts, this one featured a single-stick control system which dispensed with the steering wheel, accelerator and brake.
Because it was located in the middle of the car either the driver or passenger could operate it; power came from a gas turbine which could be used to power a house via a built-in generator. And just look at it…
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Have a look at the first drive of the ŠKODA VISION X concept car and see what its designers like about it.
The fourth-generation Skoda Octavia is revealing its fully digital instrument cluster and a relatively small touchscreen in a new set of spy images. The shift pattern on the gear lever reveals the prototype had a six-speed manual gearbox, with more expensive versions to offer a two-pedal DSG setup.
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Ford Mystere (1955)
You wouldn’t want to have to fit a new windscreen to this beauty as it stretched right the way round the car from behind each door. To get in and out the whole vehicle tilted up as a canopy.
The cabin was air conditioned and power came from a rear-mounted gas turbine.
Lincoln Futura (1955)
Best known for its starring role in the original Batman TV series, the Futura deserves a place in this story for looking like nothing else thanks to its twin Plexiglass domes along with fins front and rear.
Ford spent $250,000 (around $2.5 million in today’s money) building this 300bhp V8-powered running concept which also featured a push-button automatic transmission.
Buick Centurion (1956)
The rear end of this car was clearly inspired by a jet fighter, with all of its lines converging on a single spot.
This deserves special mention here as instead of rear-view mirrors there was a camera in the tail which beamed pictures to a TV screen on the dash – a technology that only now is making its way into production cars. The whole of the top of the car was made of glass, with just a few thin pillars to aid rigidity.
GM Firebird II (1956) & III (1958)
GM was in the market for a follow up to the Firebird 1 (pictured left). Constructed from titanium, Firebird II (centre) was designed to be run on guided roadways – so it was something of a forerunner to today’s autonomous cars.
Two years later, GM followed it with the Firebird III (right). This time Harley Earl (pictured) sought to move the inspiration on from jet planes to space rockets. As such it was even more extreme than its predecessors and featured automatic guidance, a 225bhp turbine, climate-control and automatic lighting.
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Skoda has shown a few key electric or sustainably-powered concepts over the last 5 years, and we’re driving three of them at night: the Vision iV , the Vision RS and the Vision X. The most relevant of the three is the Vision IV – we’ll explain First up is the Vision RS, which later became the Skoda Scala.
It was Earl’s swansong – he retired the same year, after an extraordinary 30 years running the design operation of GM, a period when the company came to dominate the American car world and become the world’s largest company into the bargain.
Oldsmobile Golden Rocket (1956)
With much of the rest of the industrialised world focusing on rebuilding cities destroyed during the war, nobody could keep up with the Americans in the 1950s, with one futuristic concept appearing after another. The Golden Rocket packed a 275bhp punch from its 3.2-litre V8, and it introduced us to powered steering column adjustment.
Its party piece though was the seats rose up and swivelled outwards when the doors were opened. All these features made it into production cars shortly afterwards. One feature that did not were the roof panels that hinged upwards so it was easier to get in and out.
Ford X-1000 (1957)
The X-1000 was designed by Alex Tremulis so that the engine could be mounted either in the nose or the tail. The luxurious cabin featured a TV and hi-fi system while there was a retractable canopy for the two seats, which allowed the car to be driven as a convertible or bubble-topped coupé.
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XP-700 Corvette (1958)
Effectively a rebodied Corvette, the XP-700 featured a distinctive nose design design and a bubble-top canopy that had a space-age feel about it.
Purely a design study, the XP-700 also ditched a conventional rear-view mirror and instead featured a periscope for an unobstructed view of the road behind.
Cadillac Cyclone (1959)
Cadillac had to look on as its corporate cousins got all the concept car glory, but in 1959 it too joined the great futuristic party with its Cyclone.
Those black cones in the nose were equipped with radar to help the Cyclone’s driver avoid anything in the way, a precursor to what we know today as adaptive cruise control. The cockpit meanwhile was protected by a single-piece plastic canopy coated with vapourised silver to deflect the sun’s rays.
Chrysler Turboflite (1961)
The Turboflite was certainly an innovative car, but it wasn’t without its shortcomings. The Turboflite’s regenerative turbine weighed half as much as an equivalent V8 internal combustion engine.
As soon as one of the doors was opened the glass canopy was raised electrically and an air brake popped up as soon as the hydraulic brake was applied, in a bid to help out the mechanical braking system. Today, air brakes are extremely rare – one of the few to have them is the McLaren 675LT.
GM Runabout (1964)
Charming in its simplicity, the Runabout was a three-wheeled city car with the aerodynamics of an arrow. In the boot were two integral shopping trolleys so you could load up on cheap beer.
Inside there was seating for five; two up front and three in the back. Shopping cars still don’t look like this, unfortunately.
Lamborghini Marzal (1967)
Few sixties concepts were as glassy as this one; the Marzal featured 48.4 square feet of the stuff, but exploited the relatively new wonder of air conditioning to ensure it wouldn’t be a problem in warm climates.
Designed by Bertone and clearly leading to the Lamborghini Espada, the Marzal featured an abundance of hexagons in its design. Power came from half a Lamborghini V12; a 175bhp six-cylinder unit mounted over the rear axle.
Alfa Romeo Carabo (1968)
Penned by Marcello Gandini, the Carabo (Italian for Beetle) was based on the mid-engined V8-powered Alfa Romeo Tipo 33. This was essentially an updated Lamborghini Miura, another Gandini design.
The Lambo suffered front-end lift at speed so this car fixed that. It also introduced the world to beetle-wing doors, later put into production on the Countach.
Mercedes-Benz C-111 (1969)
We call it a concept car, though Mercedes would term it a research vehicle. First unveiled in 1969, the gull-winged wonder sported a 280bhp three-rotor Wankel engine. In 1970 a refreshed car was wheeled out with a four-rotor powerplant then in 1978 an all-new car emerged, with diesel power, as pictured.
Extremely aerodynamic, as a diesel it broke a speed record for that fuel of 200mph in 1978, and a year later with a 4.8-litre petrol V8 it achieved the extraordinary average lap speed of 251mph. A total of 16 cars were produced.
Buick Century Cruiser (1969)
Designed originally as the Firebird IV in 1964, this high-performance car was designed as an autonomous car with all of the comforts of a living room. As such the seats could recline and swivel, there was a TV and pull-out table and even a built-in fridge. Looking at the picture it’s hard to see how they fitted that lot in; it must have been very cosy inside...
But it was certainly very forward thinking – many concept cars of today are looking forward to the idea of a living space on wheels as autonomy changes the way we think about personal transport, but 50 years ago the idea must have seemed unearthly.
Lancia Stratos Zero (1970)
The seventies was the decade of The Wedge and this was one of the wedgiest concepts ever dreamed up. It was also one of the lowest at just 83cm.
Another Marcello Gandini confection, the Stratos Zero featured a 115bhp 1.6-litre V4 from the Lancia Fulvia, so was rather slower than it looked. But it ushered in a design theme that was to dominate supercar design for the next 15 years or so.
Maserati Boomerang (1971)
Taking the styling themes set down by the Carabo and Stratos Zero, the Boomerang showed how a wedge-shaped car could be packaged for real-world use.
It led directly to cars such as the Lotus Esprit and DeLorean DMC-12. The 4.7-litre V8 drivetrain was borrowed from the Maserati Bora.
Ford Probe (1979-1985)
Over a six year period, Ford dreamed up a series of five concepts that tested aerodynamics to the limit. Some were more inspiring than others; the third iteration led directly to the introduction of the ‘jellymould’ Sierra while the 1985 Probe V (pictured) still looks ultra-modern, with its drag co-efficient of just 0.137 – the same as an F-16 fighter jet.
Ford Ghia Cockpit (1981)
Revisiting the microcar formula of the 1950s, the Cockpit could seat two in tandem and it was designed as an economy car for urban streets.
Small, easy to park and ultra-frugal, power came from a 200cc single-cylinder motorcycle engine that peaked at 12bhp, and which could deliver 75mpg around town. A forward-look into future personal mobility.
Italdesign Capsula (1982)
It may have looked more than just a bit weird but the Capsula really pushed the boundaries when it came to packaging. Here was a car that could be a car, van or just about any other type of vehicle, just by plonking a different bodyshell onto the chassis that contained all of the Alfasud boxer engine and running gear.
MG E-XE (1985)
Perennially broke British Leyland/Austin Rover/MG Rover rarely created pricey concept cars, but this E-XE proved they could pull it off when they tried.
It clearly influences the MGF sports car that arrived a decade after the E-XE made its first appearance, complete with Metro 6R4 running gear. We reckon it still looks great today, not bad for an eighties concept aged 34.
GM Sunraycer (1987)
The race to explore alternative fuels for personal transport has been going on a long time, and in 1987 GM sent this extraordinary machine on a 1,950-mile race across Australia, fed by nothing but sunshine. Weighing just 177kg and fitted with 7,200 solar cells, the Sunraycer could seat just one so it wasn’t massively practical, but it was a forward thinking technical tour de force with its lightweight construction, regenerative braking and an electric motor that was the size of a drinks can.
It won the race by a large margin. It had a drag coefficient of just 0.125 Cd, and could crack 68mph; it averaged 42mph in the race, and drove from Darwin to Adelaide in just over five days – 2 days quicker than the next competitor. It’s now displayed at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
GM CERV III (1990)
GM showed its first CERV (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle) concept in 1962 and followed it up two years later. The third iteration was a very different beast and while it was a looker, it was the engineering that set it apart.
The car’s raison d’etre was to be capable of being driven at massive speeds - 200mph - without the need for super-human skills – even if driven on tricky or slippery surfaces. Its design language can clearly be seen in the Corvette C5 that arrived in 1997.
BMW E1 (1991)
The smallest cars are often the most innovative, and so it was here with a concept first seen in 1991 then reimagined for 1993. While the first iteration came with electric propulsion only, a redesign two years later led to three powertrains being engineered: petrol, electric and petrol-electric hybrid, and a lightweight aluminium bodyshell to cut weight.
This concept was important as it showed the world what a small BMW could look like, at a time when the company – like its main German rivals – were associated with conventional saloons.
It’s said that this car might have been made production had the company not instead bought Rover, and concluded it could do BMW’s small cars instead; that didn’t end well, but BMW did at least get Mini from its misadventure, which has flown the small car flag for the company since. We finally got a small BMW-badged car with the first 1 Series of 2004.
Volvo ECC (1992)
When the first-generation Volvo S80 went out of production in 2006 it didn’t look especially dated – yet it aped the ECC (Environmental Concept Car) that had first been seen as far back as 1992.
Designed to save the planet in use and its occupants in a crash, the ECC was light, slippery, strong and frugal; motive power was courtesy of a gas turbine combined with an electric motor.
Dodge ESX3 (2000)
For a 21st century car the Dodge ESX3 may not have looked cutting-edge, but underneath that sober skin was something rather interesting – a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain. Honda and Toyota hadn’t long introduced their Insight and Prius respectively, yet as far back as 1996 Dodge had shown its first ESX hybrid concept – with the sequel following in 1998.
Jaguar F-Type (2000)
Jaguar has done a pretty magnificent job with the production F-Type that arrived in 2013. But this is what the F-Type could have looked like; this speedster concept made its debut at the Detroit motor show in 2000 and looked utterly sensational, though not exactly production-ready with its lack of weather gear and an almost complete lack of practicality.
Jaguar’s then-owner Ford however decided to spend its money on an ill-starred Formula One campaign instead, so the F-Type idea was canned for another decade or so. The 200 concept is now displayed at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon.
BMW X Coupé (2001)
BMW came in for a lot of stick at the start of the 21st century thanks to design chief Chris Bangle and his radical styling ideas. One of the most obvious was the ‘flame surfacing’ that played tricks with the light down the car’s flanks.
The X Coupé also featured swivelling headlights, directed by GPS and a 3.0-litre diesel engine – a form of propulsion almost unheard of in a sporting coupé. Controversial or not, Bangle’s themes were certainly influential and made him one of the world’s most famous car designers.
Cadillac Sixteen (2003)
GM has come up with some outlandish concepts over the years, but few can top the Cadillac Sixteen, with its 13.6-litre V16 that was reputedly good for 1000bhp.
Nothing like it was ever going to enter production, but it did introduce a new design language for Cadillac that’s still current; take a look at a 2019 Escalade if you don’t believe us.
GM Hy-wire (2003)
One day all cars will be like this. Thanks to everything being controlled through drive-by-wire tech there were no mechanical linkages in the cabin, allowing it to be completely opened up.
The fuel cell tech was all enclosed in the sandwich chassis; the three-phase motor provided 126bhp when running continuously, but 173bhp could be summoned for short bursts.
Holden Efijy (2005)
Concept cars usually look forward, not back. But the Holden Efijy from GM’s Australian arm looked so fabulous that it didn’t really matter.
A tribute to its legendary FJ from the ‘50s (hence the name), the Efijy was based on a C6 Corvette and utilised that car’s supercharged 6.0-litre LS2 V8.
BMW EfficientDynamics (2009)
It led directly to the introduction of the i8 but the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics is much more than that. It pioneered a new type of performance car that mixed high-tech lightweight materials with a hybrid powertrain – and the best part is that now, if your pockets are deep enough, you can buy one of your own in the BMW i8.
BMW were loudly stating that if the future was electric, it could also be alluring.
Renault Dezir (2010)
You’ll have to look long and hard to find a concept car that looks as beautiful as this one. First shown at the 2010 Paris motor show, the Renault Dezir was a pure-electric concept that offered a glimpse into an eco-friendly future where you could have beauty and brains in one compact package.
Nine years on, the Dezir still looks stunning.
Jaguar C-X75 (2010)
We got so close to being able to buy one of these gorgeous 778bhp hybrid supercars, but in the end the business case just didn’t stack up. Built in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering, the plan was to build up to 250 examples at around £1m apiece, but it wasn’t to be – although a villain got to drive one in the film Spectre, chasing James Bond in his Aston Martin DB10 round the streets of Rome.
When its designer Ian Callum retired from Jaguar in June 2019, one of his biggest regrets was that this car didn’t make production.
BMW Next 100 (2016)
Launched to mark its centenary, BMW pulled out all the stops with this one. The self-driving Next 100 pioneered new design and construction techniques that incorporated carbonfibre structures for lightness and strength.
It was super-slippery too, with a drag co-efficient of just 0.18 Cd.
DS E-Tense (2016)
So far, the DS brand has brought us mainly reheated Citroëns, but this all-electric concept that made its debut at the Geneva salon in 2016 showed just what the PSA brand was capable of.
Looking like a mid-engined supercar, the 400bhp luxury coupé was the car of the show for many – so it’s a shame there are no plans for production.
Volkswagen ID.3 (2016)
Take a close look at this car, as the chances are you’ll be seeing an awful lot of them in the future. This concept was unveiled at the Paris motor show, and previews a range of small all-electric cars from Volkswagen. So far, so unradical.
The difference is that the car promises a range of up to 340 miles, and a sale price starting at £25,000 – more or less what you’ll pay for a conventionally-powered high-end Golf today. First deliveries will begin in early 2020.
Lagonda All-Terrain Concept (2019)
We credit this car from Aston Martin for the way it reimagines personal transport. Instead of a car, it seeks to deliver a private jet-like travelling experience, shuttling its well-heeled occupants from one place to the next in silence, oblivious to the outside world and its occasional tiresomeness.
All-electric power promises a range of 400 miles when the production model arrives in 2022 or so, complete with wireless rapid recharging time of just 15 minutes. This is one automotive future we like the sound of.
Skoda might not welcome the comparison, but this car has the look of Tesla’s Model X. It’s rather taller than its ID3 stablemate, and is distinguished by a deep and substantial nose and hooped roofline. Skoda describes it as a ‘four door crossover coupe’ and it might be that the aerodynamic demands of EVs mean this is as tall as an electrically-powered SUV can be. Company insiders say that exterior features such as the continuous light bar running across the nose should make it into production when the car goes on sale late next year.
The driving position is raised, but not as high as, say, a Kodiaq. It’s a reminder of how comfortable this half-way position is and how easy it is to slide in and out of the cabin. © Provided by Haymarket Media Group
There’s not too much that can be deduced from our short, low-speed steering through this elegant town, aside from the reminder that electric vehicles are a short-circuit to luxury travel. The silence, smoothness and seamless shove are, arguably, the biggest argument for electric vehicles, rather than dry calculations about mine-to-wheel Co2. And this concept is proposed as all-wheel drive with a 0-62mph time of under 6 seconds, which is a ballpark figure tipped for production.
It’s to be hoped that Skoda has really pushed the boat out - as it has in this concept - with the interior design and the possibilities opened up by ambient lighting design. Riding inside the Vision iV feels seriously fresh and different. Will people switch from, say, the Skoda Kodiaq (which is doing very well) for a less rugged, but more refined and luxurious crossover alternative?
A big dose of bravery for the production Vision might give it a fighting chance.
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