Nearly one year after launching its 'people's car project', an attempt to crowdsource a new vehicle design in China, German automaker Volkswagen has revealed some of the outlandish ideas generated by the scheme.
Over 119,000 submissions were received for the scheme, which invited users to log onto a website and submit ideas which could be discussed with others, in what Volkswagen described as 'mass manufacturing'.
At the Auto China show in Shanghai, which closed May 2, Volkswagen showed off some of the best concepts, as well as announcing that the People's Car Project would be indefinitely extended.
Among the highlights so far was a 'hover car', a two-seater car which relied on electromagnetic power to hover just above the ground, just like a maglev train, to boost eco-friendliness.
The 'Music Car', another car chosen for development into concept form, uses light-emitting diodes on the exterior to change the color of the vehicle depending on what's being played by the driver.
On the technology front, users also created a 'Smart Key' concept, which Volkswagen says reflects the trend of more integration between online technology and cars -- and appears to be the concept with the most chance of making it into production.
The nine millimetre-thick key carries a tiny high-resolution touchscreen which gives access to vehicle information anywhere, even when the driver is nowhere near the car.
Display options include maintenance functions such as fuel situation and security status, while access to the 3G network also allows drivers to monitor the vehicle in real-time thanks to satellite navigation.
Volkswagen describes its project as "the beginning of a new era in automobile design," although it's keen to emphasize that if any of the vehicles are brought to production fruition in the future, they will be heavily influenced by the brand's own designers too.
"In a long-term context the findings of the ‘People‘s Car Project’ will influence Volkswagen’s product strategy," said VW's Luca de Meo.
"The design of our models will, however, continue to reflect the tradition of the Volkswagen brand. If at some time in the future we are to produce a vehicle from the ‘People’s Car Project’, it will be a combination of customers’ opinions and brand tradition."