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Top 5 electric concept vehicles

September 15, 2011 • Gadgets and Gaming, Top Stories

Concept cars have long been the waking dream and passion of many car manufacturers, and many vehicle drivers often aspire to own one of the prototype models. But concept cars are just that – a concept.

Although they look absolutely stunning on the show room floor, they often lack any real functionality besides the glitz and glam that the makers drape them in. But sometimes the vehicles do actually work properly and get shown off at the Frankfurt Motor Show, which is currently running in Germany.

The annual show has long stopped being just about the latest cars, but often the concept cars on display steal the show with their weird looks and new technology.

We’ll take a look at some of the concept vehicles on show and examine the possibilities of them becoming mainstream modes of transport.

Mercedes-Benz Concept B-Class E-Cell Plus EV (image: Engadget)

Mercedes-Benz Concept B-Class E-Cell Plus EV

Although the name is a bit of a mouthful, this car is a plug-in series hybrid that has a 136-horsepower electric motor, and a range of about 100km. The 67-horsepower, 1.0-liter three cylinder turbocharged petrol engine can extend that range to about 600km.

“At speeds of over 60 km/h the combustion engine acts as a driving engine together with the electric motor (“parallel mode”), transmitting the generated power to the front axle.

Any excess power generated by the combustion engine is used to charge the battery and to run the ancillary units,” Mercedez-Benz said in a statement.

The Audi Urban Concept (image: Engadget)

Audi Urban Concept

This little car is Audi’s answer to inner city driving and while it might not be suited for African roads, it could definitely make an impact on other continents.

The Urban Concept weighs only 480 kilograms and sports two electric motors that together produce 15 kW of continuous power and 47 Nm of torque. As far as concept cars go, this one is still a baby, as it was developed as part of an environmental study.

It chugs along to a comfortable 100km/h in 16.9 seconds and reaches 60km/h in about six seconds.

“The design of the Audi urban concept concentrates on the pure essence and freedom of driving in a premium form. At the same time, it offers the comfort and safety of a closed automobile,” Audi said in a statement.

The Volkswagen Nils (image: Engadget)

Volkswagen Nils

The Nils is a strange little thing and it resembles a bug more than a car. The tiny vehicle is built for only one person and with its wheels sticking out from the body, it could be mistaken for some kind of rally car.

It sports a moderate 34-horsepower (25kW) electric motor, but with that motor and a weight of 460kg, drivers will only get around 65km out of a full charge – which isn’t very far.

It runs a bit faster than the small Audi Urban Concept and is governed at 130km/h. Besides its looks, the car uses an HTC Desire HD to tune the radio, stream music and navigation.

“As you might have guessed, this one is a concept car set to exist only in the future, meaning we’ll only get a glimpse of it here in the present. Given the size of the rest of the traffic on the roads today, maybe that’s for the best,” Engadget wrote.

Husqvarna's Concept E-go bike (image: Engadget)

Husqvarna Concept E-go bike

As far as electric vehicles go, the last thought on consumers minds’ is getting on an electric-powered motorcycle, but that is exactly what Husqvarna has created.

The bike can be used for road, off-road and supermotard, and only weighs 80kg. The problem with many concept vehicles, no other details have been revealed such as range, speed and how serious BMW is about actually building it (BMW bought Husqvarna in 2007).

“The Concept E-go also boasts exclusive technical innovations such as the “single sided double leg fork”, with 35 mm of inner tube and the aluminium single side swing arm.

The battery support is also constructed from aluminium, the frame and oval piping is made from steel, while the seat is self-supporting,” they said in a statement.

Rimac Concept One (image: Engadget)

Rimac Automobili Concept One

Obscure manufacturer Rimac Automobili is virtually unknown in many circles, but they have somewhat stolen the show in Frankfurt with the Concept One supercar.

Although it’s also electrically-powered, it has four electric motors, which provide the beast with 1,088 horsepower.

It can easily manage speeds of 100km/h in 2.8 seconds and boasts a range of 600km on a full charge, and makes use of a 92kWh lithium ion phosphate (LiFePO4) battery design.

But as Engadget wrote, “it is, alas, just a concept for now, but with a little bit of funding the folks at Rimac hope to bring it to market.”

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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