The cars of tomorrow at Frankfurt Motor Show

LEADIN: The world’s car makers are displaying their most advanced vehicles at the Frankfurt Auto Show, which opens today ( 12 September). Among them some outlandish concept cars that push current technology to the limit, including Nissan’s smart watch design for the driver of the future. STORYLINE These cars are not for sale, and many may never end up on the production line . But here at the Frankfurt Auto Show concept cars are a way for manufacturers to illustrate how the world of automotive design might look in the future. Spread over the equivalent of 32 soccer fields at the sprawling Frankfurt Messe Exhibition Centre, this year’s show is dotted with concepts cars, some more futuristic and outlandish than others. Each concept car competes for the attention of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who flock to the event which attracted some 928,000 visitors back in 2011. Japanese car manufacturers Nissan are displaying their vision of the future, at least for the increasingly lucrative Chinese market. The Friend-Me concept car is a four-passenger sedan, aimed at young Chinese urbanites, which – according to Nissan – will be the world’s largest customer base in the near future. Friend-me comes with a Puredrive hybrid 2.0 litre powertrain engine which the company claims is “highly ecologically efficient.” Nissan say the Friend-Me is aimed at young, single Chinese males that drive their cars late at night with their friends, hence the name “Friend-Me.” Vice-president of product planning at Nissan, Etienne Henry, says the company wants to hit the Chinese market running but also wants to work on the future designs of their sedan. “With a concept car you can test many things. It is essentially targeted at the Chinese market in terms of size, proportion. This is a sedan but this is a very modern sedan. That’s what we wanted to investigate with Friend-Me,” says Henry. Soon after the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch, Nissan are showing off their own smart watch specifically made for driving their cars. The Nismo smart watch is in its early stages of development but, according to Nissan, all future drivers will wear a watch when driving. The watch display gives vital information on the car including speed and petrol level. But taking this information off the dashboard and putting it on the wrist of drivers is not the main reason for a car-based smart watch. Henry says it will also take information from the driver. “The idea is that the watch can take some biometric details from the driver and, you know, feed them in to the engine control unit and adjust the engine and the driving dynamics accordingly,” says Henry. Toyota-owned Lexus is showing off their vision of the future with their hybrid compact crossover the LF-NX concept. The LF-NX crossover is slightly smaller than a regular SUV and comes with 2.5-litre, four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor. According to Lexus, the LF-NX can operate under electric motor power alone at low speeds. The concept is still at its early stages of design and may never be mass-produced, but according to Lexus Europe Communications manager Etienne Plas, the value of revealing their new concept at the Auto show is to get feedback from the public. “At this moment it’s just a study, it’s a design study. So we want to show this and see if that’s the direction that’s where we want to go, what you think basically, the feedback of consumers and of people etc. But clearly we don’t do this without a purpose. We really want to show that we are working in to a strong direction. And it’s important for us to show that we mean it seriously,” says Plas. One concept shown here that has been confirmed for future production is the Citroen Cactus. You can license this story through AP Archive: Find out more about AP Archive:

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