These are three concept car ideas that have yet to be mass produced. All three could still yet be mass produced, and one of the ideas might be pretty close to happening because the economics of that concept car are working in its favor right now.
I used to make my living as a driver, and have driven all types of vehicles including trucks, cars, taxis, vans, and flatbeds. I ran my own limousine company for a few years, until high gas prices drove me to another line of work.
As someone who loves to drive, I’m always paying attention to concept cars that might end up being a cheaper way to drive than gas powered vehicles are. Today, I drive around in a Toyota Prius hybrid electric car, and love the money I save by using less gas to power my car.
Concept Cars Yet to Be Mass Produced
AVE Mizar Flying Car
Henry Smolinski was a Northrop Institute of Technology graduate with a Ford Pinto and a dream in the early 1970s. Smolinski started a company called Advanced Vehicle Engineers (AVE), that attached the back wing portion of a Cessna Skymaster airplane to the top of a Ford Pinto car. Smolinski’s concept car was one that you drive to the airport, attach stored wings to the car and fly it in the sky, and then after landing just detach the wings and drive home.
Two prototype AVE Mizar flying cars were built, and production for the concept car was slated to begin in 1974. On September 11, 1973, Henry Smolinski took an associate, Harold Blake, for a test flight in one of the cars. During the flight the right wing strut came loose from the Pinto. Smolinski should have immediately tried to land, but instead he tried turning the flying car and the stress of the turn caused the wing to fold and completely detached the wings from the car.
The heavy weighted Pinto plummeted straight to the ground, resulting in a fiery crash that killed both Henry Smolinski and Harold Blake. That was the end of the AVE Mizar flying car. As you can see from this video though, the AVE Mizar flying car did actually work.
Solar Powered Vehicles
A number of major universities in the United States have built solar powered vehicles that actually work pretty well. The universities enter them in races against each other. The University of Michigan has built 11 custom solar-electric vehicles that have won a record six National Championship races.
At this point, solar powered vehicles are completely concept cars not ready in any way for mass production and public use. Solar powered cars need to be in the sun to work, so they are impractical for tunnels, parking garages and cloudy places. You would really have to live in a place like Yuma, Arizona, the sunniest city in the world with a 90% annual sunshine level, for a solar car to be practical.
In the future, if engineers and scientists can figure out how to store power from the sun efficiently in small batteries, solar powered cars could become practical. Another problem with solar powered cars is that the record speed for a totally solar powered car is only 55.2 miles per hour.
GM Natural Gas Powered Trucks
This is one concept vehicle that looks like it might actually have a future. A few years ago at a local 4-H Fair there was a natural gas GM truck on display. They were giving out free t-shirts so we stopped to look, and I asked the GM representative when natural gas powered GM trucks would be available for sale.
He laughed and said never. GM only built the natural gas truck as part of its agreement to get government bailout money. At around the same time, my sister-in-law’s cousin sold the rights to any natural gas from fracking under his 500 acres of farmland in Pennsylvania to a energy company for a nice sum of money. The boom in fracking has caused the price of natural gas to become very cheap, and GM recently announced they were going to produce natural gas hybrid trucks for sale to the public.
The low price of natural gas is actually making the idea of natural gas powered cars and trucks economically feasible. If natural gas prices remain low, we are going to be seeing mass production of natural gas powered vehicles in the near future.