VW works on hovercar concept

BARRY PARK
Last updated 13:37 08/05/2012
Volkswagen Hover-Beetle

FLOATING IDEAS: Volkswagen seeks inspiration for its next generation of vehicles from the people of the world’s most populated country.

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Volkswagen has added a few new designers to its car development team - about 1.3 billion of them, to be exact.

The German car maker has tapped into China - the world's most heavily populated country - to help it re-create the People's Car, a modern-day interpretation of the original Volkswagen Beetle.

The project has already generated its first winning idea, a wheel-shaped hover car that uses a magnetic field built into the road to float just above the ground, and even turn on the spot to weave through China's crowded streets and car parks.

A video of the two-seater shows an elderly couple learning how to drive the concept car, quickly becoming familiar with the joystick-like controller as they take to the streets in front of an awe-struck community.

The video also takes the opportunity to spruik a few other emerging technologies that the car maker is believed to be working on, such as an automated driving function that takes over the controls in traffic, and a crash-avoidance system that can sense other vehicles around the People's Car and avoid a collision if it detects that one is likely.

The concept car also shows a clever heads-up display that projects onto the glass-fronted section of the car.

The year-long online project aimed to tap into the 450 million people in China who have access to the internet.

"Volkswagen has set out to create the most innovative dialogue platform ever with the 'People's Car Project'," Luca de Meo, Volkswagen's marketing director in China, says.

"The platform is debuting in China because that is Volkswagen's largest and most important market. However, we also see potential for launching the project in other markets as well,"

Will those other markets include Australasia? Not yet, with the car maker's local division saying it hasn't yet had any discussions on whether locally influenced designs, such as Passat ute, could make it into the local product mix.

Other ideas floated by the China People's Car Project include a musical car that uses externally mounted lights to change the colour of the car depending on what music is being played inside, and a compact smart screen that can show things such as how much fuel is left, what temperature it is inside the car and whether it has been stolen or someone has broken into it.

-Drive.com.au

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