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The Crazy Cool World Of Concept Cars

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives Topics:  Citroen C4 Cactus

The Crazy Cool World Of Concept Cars

Geoff Maxted
September 6, 2013

Citroen C4 Cactus
Soon, very soon now, the auto show season will begin, bringing some light into our blighted winter darkness. One feature that is sure to be of interest this year is just how bonkers some of the concept cars will be. Concepts - often the result of years of research - are a way of introducing styling changes and possible future developments to the waiting world. In reality, the final production models will probably bear very little resemblance to the concepts as the company directors bottle it at the last minute.

Car designers are allowed free rein to come up with new ideas and the wordsmiths will have honed their quills to a fine point to ensure that the greatest amount of overblown hyperbole can be written into the promotional blurb. Vehicles that are futuristic, wacky and just plain bananas are usually the result. The Citroen Cactus (pictured) is a case in point. This concept has ‘air bumps’ on the side to help minimise damage in the event of a minor shunt.

It is crucial that all concept cars are given appropriately daft names. Presumably there is a point to it but who knows what it is? When Citroen were questioned about calling a car Cactus they got a bit prickly about it. (Only kidding! Citroen people are cool and French!). Also, in today’s environmentally friendly world, they have to be clean and efficient. The aforementioned Cactus has an Hybrid-Air system. This is an innovative combination of tried and tested technologies: a petrol engine, a unit to store energy in the form of compressed air, a hydraulic motor-pump assembly and an automatic transmission working with an epicyclic gear train. Bonus points if you understand all that but this technology could well be featuring in the brand’s vehicles from 2016 as manufacturers continue the search for the alternative answer.

If car makers are prepared to spend a fortune developing these cars then they make sure they make as much of the space inside as possible. This usually results in the motor being loaded to the brim with the very latest techno-gadgets and safety features. They will be bursting with touch screen technology and the appalling named ‘infotainment centres’. Whatever happened to radios? Now it seems it is possible to connect with the entire world and probably NASA as well. Houston, we have a puncture.

No news yet on what advances the car makers are planning to stop children totally destroying the back seats or of special cloaking devices which makes the cars invisible to traffic wardens. These are the real answers that drivers want yet they remain a distant dream. And they call it progress.

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