The New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) is America’s longest-running auto show, first held in 1900 at Madison Square Garden. Nearly 120 years later, the show is bigger and more popular than ever, the perfect venue for automakers and aftermarket companies to show off the newest models, the latest technology, concept cars, and perhaps the future of transportation as we know it.
As with all “concepts,” concept cars and new technologies don’t always make it to production. Some are simply too expensive, too crazy, need more development, or don’t generate enough interest, while others go on to redefine our drive, whether it’s setting new efficiency records or performance standards. Here are four interesting concept cars from NYIAS 2018, which ran from Friday, March 30 through Sunday, April 8.
1. Waymo Jaguar I-Pace
The first electric vehicle (EV) from Jaguar Land Rover, the Jaguar I-Pace marks the company’s belated entry into battery-electric vehicles, and hopefully not the last. The Jaguar I-Pace seems to take some of its cues from the Tesla Model X, so the comparisons are obvious. The I-Pace’s 90 kWh lithium-ion battery delivers slightly more mileage than the Model X and the package comes in cheaper than Model X.
What I'm really wondering about, though, is the collaboration between Jaguar and Waymo, the concept at NYIAS 2018 featuring a tell-tale black-dome sensor array. Inside the Waymo Jaguar I-Pace features additional computer controls and “the world’s most-experienced driver,” an artificial intelligence (AI) for fully-autonomous driving. Waymo and Jaguar plan on outfitting up to 20,000 vehicles for Level 5 autonomous driving in the next couple of years.
Winning Idea I like that Jaguar Land Rover has finally developed its first EV, plus that it’s cheaper than the Model X, its closest competitor. Can Jaguar make the big picture work with this new platform?
It Could Happen Autonomous Drive has had legislators and dreamers at odds since its very inception. Autonomous vehicles are still very much in their infancy, but Google’s AI technology is a huge beast, constantly learning and improving. How soon regulation and technology meet in the middle is anyone’s guess.
2. Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept
Volkswagen is known in the United States for its small sedans, hot hatches, and “Dieselgate.” It seems that the company is still very much forward-looking and is once again teasing Americans with a mid-size pickup truck. To be certain, breaking into the pickup segment isn’t easy, and it’s difficult to see where Volkswagen can fit in between America’s best-selling Ford F-150, the top-rated Toyota Tacoma, and Chevrolet Silverado.
Indeed, Volkswagen teased us nearly 2 decades ago, with the Advanced Activity Concept, but didn’t see the interest. Then, a decade later, Volkswagen Amarok was launched everywhere but the United States. The author drove one of these regularly on the rough mountain roads of Peru, and it’s a capable one. At NYIAS 2018, The Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept was revealed, a slightly-larger mid-size pickup truck, custom-built on the Atlas platform. It’s 276 hp and 266 lb•ft come from a 3.6-ℓ V6, put to the ground through an 8-speed automatic transmission and Volkswagen’s 4Motion AWD system.
Winning Idea It’s about time, because non-Americans have been loving the Amarok for years, and Tacoma, Colorado, and Ridgeline need the competition. Thankfully, it’s not just a stretched and chopped Atlas SUV, but a purpose-built 4-passenger pickup.
It Could Happen We’re not really sure, because Volkswagen President Hinrich Woebcken says, “To be clear: There are no plans to make a production version of this show car…” but “we are thinking about what may be possible someday in the future in this market.”
3. Genesis Essentia Concept
The Genesis Essentia Concept is one of those few “concept cars” that set out to be exactly that, so show off what could be the future of automotive technology, not just hopped-up pre-production vehicles. That’s why we didn’t include the Lincoln Aviator in this list. The Essentia is a 21st Century electric vehicle, one which looks into how drivers and passengers connect to their vehicles, and how their vehicles connect them to the rest of the world.
Since Genesis became its own brand a couple years ago, it really hasn’t defined itself as something other than a Hyundai, which is why many might not even recognize the difference. With the Essentia Concept, maybe people will sit up and take notice. The Essentia is Genesis’ first EV, an aggressive GT-styled 2+2 coupe. Few powertrain specifications have been revealed, but it’s estimated to sprint to 60 mph in 3 seconds, but the real breakthroughs are its built-in vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology, backed by AI-constructed routing and touring.
Winning Idea We spend a lot of time in our cars, and making cars part of the growing internet-of-things (IOT) is only a natural progression. Imagine never having to worry if you have correct change for tolls, parking, car washes, or drive-in restaurants, if your IoT-connected vehicle can do it for you.
It’ll Never Happen The Genesis Essentia Concept looks like it drove right out of Gran Turismo, and probably has a virtual model somewhere racing against other virtual racecars. Still, it’s been built, and though it’s purely a concept, as it should be, we wouldn’t be surprised to see at least some of its technology tuned for everyday drivers and enthusiasts in some future Genesis model.
4. Classic MINI Electric
It’s hard to tell where to class this next vehicle, a restored 20th Century MINI Cooper, but with a special badge that plants it firmly in the 21st Century, a yellow MINI Electric logo. The Classic MINI Electric is indeed a one-off, a carefully-restored classic MINI Cooper, but fitted with an EV powertrain.
MINI reveals no specifications for the Classic MINI Electric, but goes on to say that it’s a celebration of classic styling and modern technology. Also, it serves to announce the company’s first EV, to be unveiled in 2019, just in time for MINI’s 60th Anniversary.
Winning Idea Yes, adding an electric motor to a classic MINI Cooper is kind of like gluing a paper airplane to a model rocket engine, perhaps safer, and it is probably someone’s personal toy, by now. It goes to show, however, that anything can be electric!
It’ll Never Happen Sadly, it’s been confirmed that this car is indeed just a one-off vehicle, so we’ll never get to see it in production. Still, the MINI 3 Door Electric, coming in 2019, gives us something to look forward to.
2019 Vehicles Coming Soon!
We’re always looking at cars, old, new, and future, and it’s really interesting to see how technology has made things, mostly, better for everyone. If you’re waiting for the next big thing, be sure to check out the 2019 models, sure to be unveiled soon!
Images by NYIAS, Jaguar, Volkswagen, Genesis, MINI