Sixty years ago, scientists, engineers, and my favorite cartoon TV show predicted a world of flying cars, cloud-dwarfing skyscrapers, and robotic maids. By comparison, our present fails to live up to past projections. But early today, Ford announced the Evos Concept, an automotive marvel that could singlehandedly transition the future of automobiles into a Jetsons-like reality.
There’s been considerable hype surrounding the Evos Concept, which makes its worldwide debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in less than two weeks. The Ford could steal thunder from anticipated unveilings by Porsche, Subaru, Land Rover, and Audi, but fundamentally, the Evos is a plug-in hybrid, four-door, four-passenger coupe based on the Focus. Yet, that’s also where traditional descriptions end, because technically, the Evos is not a real car.
Like most concept cars designed for auto shows, the Evos Concept will roll, but it will never see production. Instead, it is a design and technology tease, a lifelike collection of future ideas, and a glimpse into the mind of Ford’s engineers.
“We wanted the Ford Evos Concept to give a clear message about where Ford design is heading— shaping vehicles that are fun to drive, have a strong premium visual appeal, and above all, are stunningly beautiful,” said J Mays, Ford’s group vice president for design and its chief creative officer.
It’s a shame the Evos is not a future Gran Torino or Taurus coupe, because visually, the four-door fastback design of the Evos is stunning. The four Gullwing-styled doors are an obvious, but clever, show trick that allows showgoers to see inside the concept a little easier. Ford didn’t discuss the gasoline-part of the hybrid equation, though it probably could be a variation of the 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter four-cylinders currently in use. More importantly, Ford did say that it envisions 500-mile range capability.
There’s plenty to like on the outside, but inside, the Evos Concept becomes a wet-suit of technology, a virtual connoisseur for adhering to its owners personal tastes and habits. Ford says the Evos Concept is more than just an oversized smartphone, but that the car will, thanks to a “cloud” network, know its driver and automatically customize suspension and engine controls to suit the owner’s driving styles, preferences and habits.
“The possibilities are fascinating when we explore how to enable a seamless lifestyle between home, office and car linked by access to the driver’s personal information,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Innovation.
Clearly, Ford sees the cloud network as a personal assistant to “make life simpler,” an ominous task from the people that brought us the much-criticized MyFord Touch. Ford says the cloud-optimized hybrid powertrain would know when to switch driving modes, utilizing personal information patterns, and weather service and road condition applications to predict the driver’s route. But this also raises another interesting point concerning the cloud: Do we want to give driving control to complex computer algorithms? Who else would have access to our personal information and habits? Is it safe? Reliable?
Of course, most of this cloud-talk is just auto show tech-geekery, and it likely would take several years for any of it to see production. But it does paint an interesting portrait that, like the future yesteryear world of the Jetsons, a new era of automotive design might only be limited to the creativity of our wildest imaginations.