In a Marty-McFly-Goes-to-China moment, Volkswagen and China’s “The People’s Project” have debuted what might bring us closer than ever to that flying DeLorean we’ve all secretly pined for since the first installment of Back to the Future – that is, if it ever sees reality.
The concept is vividly illustrated in a recently released video featuring a simulated cruise through Beijing in a wheel-shaped, two-seater pod floating several feet above the road’s surface. It’s operated by a center-mounted joystick. Dashboard information, including speed, mileage and engine cues are displayed hologram-style.
So how does it work? The idea is based on electromagnetic suspension. Real-life implantation would require electromagnetic mineral strips embedded in the roads below it, creating the hovering effect. Rear-mounted thrusters would propel the car forward.
Volkswagen’s hover car concept is the brainstorm of an apparently as-yet-unnamed girl (we figure she hasn’t been publicly identified because she’s a minor, or shy, or because Volkswagen is protecting its intellectual property; or because we just can’t read Chinese) who responded to a crowd-sourcing call for ideas. The initiative debuted in China last year and thus far, has prompted upwards of 33 million website visitors to submit 119,000 ideas.
The concept was unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show along with a few other finalists – notably a “Music Car” that changes colors with the driver’s musical choices, and the “Smart Key,” a smartphone that can start your car’s engine.
“We are no longer just building cars for, but also with customers and at the same time initiating a national dialog which gives us a deep insight into the design preferences, needs and requirements of Chinese customers,” said Volkswagen Director of Marketing Luca de Meo.