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LA Auto Show 2009: Concept Cars

LA Auto Show 2009: Concept Cars

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By Evan Ackerman

You can have your exotic cars, and you can have your eco-friendly cars, but no, you can’t have concept cars. Not yours. These flights of imagination are never for sale, are rarely street legal, and often don’t work at all. But damn are they cool looking, and their very unobtainability and uniqueness make them that much more interesting.

OhGizmo was at the LA Auto Show yesterday, and we’ve got a bunch of pictures of concept cars for you from the likes of Honda, Audi, and BMW. Check out the non-gallery plus links to high res versions of the pics, after the jump.

Audi e-tron Concept

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This concept from Audi, based on the sexy R8, is a pure electric sports car with four (four!) electric drive motors, one at each wheel. That works out to 313 hp and 3,319 (that’s not a typo) lb-ft of torque. What does that much torque get you? The ability to accelerate from 40 to 75 mph in about 4 seconds, not to mention being able to control the torque at each wheel individually, which Audi says “allows for dazzling dynamics and an undreamed-of level of agility and precision when cornering.” The batteries are water-cooled and actually help heat the interior of the car while offering a useful range of about 150 miles. And best idea ever: it charges wirelessly through the magic of induction.

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Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept

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The gigantic gullwing side doors are obviously the coolest feature of the Subaru Hybrid Tourer, so it stands to reason that Subaru has stated that the doors are the one thing that will definitely NOT show up in any of their production cars. Oh well. Otherwise, um, it’s sort of a hybrid and has red tinted windows that Subaru says reduce eyestrain but will probably just fill you with rage.

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Cadillac Converj Concept

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The Converj is an extended range electric vehicle, meaning that it runs on batteries until it’s out of battery power, and then it kicks in a gas motor to recharge itself. The inside makes “broad use” of renewable materials, there are OLED displays, and cameras instead of side mirrors (like on pretty much every other concept car in existence).

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Volkswagen Up! Lite Concept

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As a concept, the Volkswagen Up! Lite is the world’s most fuel efficient and sustainable car (or so they say), consuming 70 mpg on the highway and emitting 65 g/km of CO2. It’s a hybrid that uses a 2 cylinder turbo diesel engine, electric motors, and a 7 speed gearbox, and somehow weighs only 695 kilograms. The Up! Lite goes 0-60 in 12 seconds and tops out at 100 mph. You’ll notice in the pics that the radiator grille opens and closes, which lets it cool the engine only when necessary to preserve the aerodynamics of the car. Instead of a gear knob, there is a “manual control ball” which you move back and forth like a computer mouse to shift gears. When the car is parked on a hot day, a vent opens at the back of the roof to let hot air naturally rise up and out.

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Lexus LF-Ch Concept

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I guess some of these cars offer more in the way of “concept” than others… The Lexus LF-Ch is nice looking, is a hybrid, and has a bunch of LED lights and an integrated iPhone dock. Yay? I do like the color, though.

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Scion xB DJ 2.0 Concept

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It’s got a roof that folds out into two gigantic speakers (the whole system totals 2000 watts) and a dance floor in the back with integrated disco lights. Plus a DJ mixer. What more do you want, the kitchen sink?


Scion Kogi xD Mobile Kitchen Concept

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Well, here you go, it’s the kitchen sink, with a reverse osmosis filter installed on it. Plus there’s a fridge, cutting board, ice chest, and tailgate barbecue grill. There are cooking utensils in the left tail light and condiments in the right, and even a couple LCDs so that you can watch the Food Network.


Volvo S60 Concept

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Not bad for a Swedish (okay, no longer Swedish) turbo brick, right? The rear passenger doors on the Volvo S60 concept open by sliding backwards like a minivan door and then opening outwards. Like most of these four door concepts, there’s no central door pillar. The front headlights are styled to represent two Viking longboats sailing side by side. The center console is handmade Orrefors crystal (seriously, they have pics of the process), whatever that is.

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Lincoln C Concept

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The Lincoln C is supposed to be a car that’s small on the outside (smaller than your average Lincoln, anyway) but big on the inside, and it even kinda works, due to its impressive width and apparent lack of trunk space. It’s also got an all glass roof, which helps. The distinctive seats are “crafted from luxurious, chromium-free leather and filled with soy foam.” Yay, edible seats! The steering wheel is hubless, which is kinda neat, and there’s also a roof-mounted webcam for some reason.

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Honda P-NUT Concept

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Honda’s “P-NUT” stands for “Personal Neo Urban Transport.” The car only seats three, but thanks to the center driving position everybody gets a huge amount of leg room. The powertrain is designed to be modular, running from a small gas engine to a pure electric powerplant. There’s a heads-up display for the driver, but not too many other details… Honda spends most of their press release talking about how stylish the P-NUT is, instead of what they should be discussing, which is why on earth they decided that P-NUT was a good acronym for a concept car.

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BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept

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The BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept is a plug-in hybrid that uses electric motors and a three cylinder turbo diesel to go from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds with a 155 mph top speed, all while getting over 60 mpg. The rear lights act as wings to help maintain smooth airflow around the car, and the front grille opens only when necessary to cool the engine, further reducing drag. There’s a 3 dimensional heads-up display above the instrument panel, and the car is smart enough to adjust its energy consumption based on your location and what it knows about your driving habits. And just look at this thing, it’s absolutely spectacular in that overblown way that makes concept cars so awesome:

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I’ll be putting together galleries of exotic cars and innovative eco-friendly cars from the show over the next day or two, but in the meantime, here are some tidbits to tide you over…

Best Booth Experience:

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Kia, who was serving peach cobbler with ice cream for lunch. Did I mention that Kia makes the best cars ever? I LOVE KIA!

Extra peach cobbler picture for franco1975 :

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Worst Swag:

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Mazda Concentrated Zoom-Zoom Energy Drink. For real.


Weirdest Car Costume:

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Mini on a leash.


The LA Auto Show is open to the public from December 4th to the 13th.

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