Recent years have been characterized by a drive towards efficiency. While that’s still the order of the day with powertrains, the design message is changing with ‘apologetic’ green design disappearing and a new focus on fun, performance-orientation and technology.
Led by the new generation of hyper-cars, hybrid powertrains now signify performance and environmental advantage. This trend was evident at the Detroit show, where numerous high performance variants were launched, notably from Toyota — engaging gamers with the sporty FT-1 — and Infiniti leveraging their Formula 1 involvement with the Q50 Eau Rouge.
Even Volkswagen’s efficient ‘Bluemotion’ sub-brand is now given aesthetic billing that’s closer to the company’s GTI and R performance brands than anything obviously ‘green’.
Toyota FT-1 concept
Toyota has shown hybrid concepts in Detroit previously. Not so in 2014. Instead the FT-1 shows a sporting, fun side to the brand. Following the concept car’s development, Toyota also collaborated with Polyphony Digital and Sony to engage Gran Turismo 6 gamers with a virtual download version of the car.
Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge concept
Infiniti continues to lever its association with Formula 1. Following the Sebastian Vettel FX, this concept version of the Q50 suggests a new high performance sub-brand for the company named after the famous corner at Spa racetrack.
Volkswagen Passat Bluemotion
Bluemotion has long signified Volkswagen’s ultra-efficient powertrain technology. But while the blanked off grilles are still present, the Passat Bluemotion wore its badging with pride, along with skirts and big wheels more reminiscent of a GTi.
The 918 joins the Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1 in using a ‘hybrid’ powertrain for ultimately greater performance. Porsche however is using lime green as a signature color on key details to denote vehicles equipped with the hybrid powertrain.
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