In today's automotive market, it's easy to see futuristic technology is as important to automakers as it is to consumers. Far gone from the simple, rugged internal combustion motors of our past, cars and trucks today feature next-level hybrid drivetrains, almost limitless connectivity with mobile devices and, more recently, partial automation or even full self-driving modes. Check out some of the wild technological innovations on display at this year's LA Auto Show.
The Mercedes-AMG Project ONE Powerplant
Hybrid motors aren't new, but a hybrid that can spool to 11,000 RPM? This beastly Mercedes does that and more. Technology borrowed from highly-strung Formula 1 racers has been detuned - albeit slightly - to produce a hybrid street car that drives like it came directly from the track. Mating a 1.6-liter motor to four electric motors (an electric-assist turbo, a hybrid mated to the motor and two mounted to the wheels), Mercedes is promising the vehicle will produce over 1,000 horsepower. Combine that with race-based aero and a future-tech, minimalist interior and you've got the world's first truly efficient hypercar.
The Carbon Fiber Construction of the BMW i3s
Okay, it's true. The first i3 was also constructed from carbon fiber, the space-age lightweight material as well. But paired with more oomph from the electric motor and a sport-tuned suspension, this BMW lives up to its "ultimate driving machine" slogan. The i3s is a more aggressive version of the Bimmer city car with some bite to back up its lower stance and meaner visage. With sub seven-second 0-60 times and 100 mph top speed, this compact can still get you from downtown to the beach and back - twice - between charges.
The Wheels on the Mini Electric Concept
There's a lot to talk about when looking at Mini's foray into full the electric market. The familiar Cooper shape gives way to design touches that are solidly next-decade, like next-level Union Jack LED taillights and uncommon silver and yellow exterior colors. But innovation in construction makes this little Mini oh so futuristic. The 19-inch wheels on the compact were created in part using a 3-D printer. While companies like Daimler have dabbled in the printing method for their commercial vehicles and McClaren has used the tech to build out supercars, this Mini's wheels will be a pioneer among 3-D printed parts on a soon-to-be full production vehicle. Look for it on the road in 2019.
The LED Headlight 'Eyes' on the VW I.D. Buzz
Volkswagen is giving what amounts to a clinic on future technology in its retro-packaged I.D. Buzz concept, but it's the stylistic cues that really stand out. The hippie van of the future, which is coming to the road in the mid 20s, features blinking LEDs in the headlights that reflect the vehicle's status. That's right, you can get a sense of the van's "mood" just by looking at the front of it. When coupling this bit of fun with a plug-in EV powerplant, Volkswagen's I.D. Pilot autonomous driving technology and augmented reality heads-up display system, you get a van taking all the spirit of its storied past full speed ahead.
- Alan LaGuardia, Custom Publishing Writer