Welcome to (possibly) the weirdest thing on four wheels(?) you’ll see this year - and we’re only just at the start of January. It’s called the Vision AVTR, a wildly stylised concept vehicle headed to this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and Mercedes-Benz is confident that it’s much less outlandish than it is very futuristic.
Some have posited this as what the luxurious S-Class might eventually look like in the 22nd century, begging the question why the automaker bothered to tap the minds of those behind Avatar, the 2009 James Cameron sci-fi blockbuster movie in order to create this. After all, we don’t recall seeing roads on the alien world of Pandora unless the Vision AVTR is hiding some serious off-road gear.
At least they’ve got the glowing purple lights down pat and they do look great reflected against the car in these pictures. On a Vegas convention centre floor, perhaps the impact isn’t quite there.
Either way, this is the car they’ve come up with. Despite the movie connection, the AVTR acronym actually stands for Advanced Vehicle Transformation, and according to Benz, this incorporates various new organic-inspired visual cues as well as those that have been previously tread upon with other Mercedes-Benz concept cars such as the Biome, Urbanetic, and F 015 Luxury in Motion - unified under the “One Bow” design language.
On its hind there are 33 “bionic flaps” that Mercedes-Benz say are reminiscent of reptile scales, functioning as communication mediums between the driver and the outside world through subtle flowing movements and gestures.
Of course, it’s almost a given that every concept car presents its own vision of a driverless, fully autonomous future. The Vision AVTR is no different with a ‘multifunction control element’ placed in the centre console taking the practical place of a conventional steering wheel. Upon touching it, the car would recognise the driver based on his or her breathing patterns and heartbeat. Trippy.
Another trope of a futuristic concept car is the lack of a combustion engine, a propulsion method of a bygone, less enlightened age. It’s powered by electricity, naturally, but the Vision AVTR goes one step further by incorporating sustainable materials even in its battery system.
For example, graphene-based organic cells take the place of present day lithium ion energy storage and would therefore be fully recyclable, even compostable. Inside, the car’s seats are refined vegan-based DINAMICA leather, which is made from fast-growing rattan and is the only microfibre material that is fully environmentally sustainable throughout the production process.
Lastly, with drive going independently to the front and rear axles, the Vision AVTR is able to move sideways by approximately 30 degrees in a so-called “crab movement” by controlling the front or rearward direction of drive across all wheels.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.