Mobility gets personal at Auto China

April 30, 2012


BEIJING, April 30 — Among the glut of SUVs and sedans the world’s automakers hope can tempt the Chinese market, there have been several other remarkable vehicles on show at Auto China, which ends on May 2 — the latest in a series of models which hint we’re moving towards a world of much, much smaller cars.

Not particularly flashy, and in many cases quite outrageous, the efforts of several automakers to demonstrate their vision of the future of personal mobility probably haven’t garnered as much attention as they should have done at various auto shows over the past year.

The EN-V 2.0 concept is on display at Auto China. — Picture courtesy of GMThe EN-V 2.0 concept is on display at Auto China. — Picture courtesy of GMThe reason for showing them in Beijing, of course, is obvious — China is home to more megacities than anywhere else on the planet, and that situation isn’t expected to change any time soon.

It also has a huge traffic problem (one traffic jam in 2010 was said to have lasted for weeks), so getting people around the megacities without causing gridlock is never far from the front of the minds of officials.

As the world’s automakers showed this week, they have plenty of ideas to help fix the problem — here, a look at some of the most original that have been launched recently.

Chevrolet EN-V 2.0

We’ve seen the EN-V before, but this evolved design shown in Beijing adds more consumer-focused features such as climate control and storage space. The two-seater is expected to take part in pilot studies in China by the end of the year.

Chery Ant

The Ant builds on “platooning” concepts to offer a two seater which can join up with another one, potentially allowing entire convoys of “Ant” vehicles to move as one through a city to cut congestion. Clever stuff from the Chinese automaker, first unveiled at Auto China.

Honda U3-X

Boasting some sophisticated technology from Honda’s ASIMO robot, the U3-X transfers some of the best parts of the Segway scooter to a single-wheel seated form, which can balance itself and zip around. It was shown in Europe for the first time this year.

Suzuki Q Concept

Positioned to be roughly between a motorcycle and a car, the Q Concept was a high-tech debut at the Tokyo Motor Show that uses a heads-up display and smartphone connection, along with an unfathomably complicated steering wheel.

Audi Urban Concept

Part racer, part city car, the Audi Urban Concepts first unveiled in Frankfurt last year were described as a ‘new form of mobility’ although the four-wheeler does draw some cues from its competitors.

VW Nils

This single-seater model was designed with the help of the German government and is designed to target the 90 per cent of commuters who travel alone. First revealed in Frankfurt last year, it’s light and speedy, with an electric range of 65km.

Nissan PIVO 3

The PIVO 3 is the latest in several generations of tiny two-seaters, with each one looking closer to production than ever before. It’s on show at Auto China but was first displayed in Tokyo.

Renault Twizy

The Twizy is undoubtedly the odd one out in this list — Renault’s all-electric runabout is actually on the roads. With a 100km range and a 3.5-hour charge time, first reviews have been pretty good for the strange looking car-cum-motorbike. — AFP-Relaxnews


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