Technology

Detroit Motor Show: What the cars of the future may look like

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Media captionAutonomous vehicles move centre stage

A range of new concept cars has been showcased at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Concept cars are visions of how the future of motoring may look, although some experts said there were fewer models than expected.

That could be because such vehicles are time-consuming and expensive to make, especially considering some will never reach the production line.

Digital dashboards, green energy and autonomous features were big themes.

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Image caption The new Honda Insight prototype

Honda previewed the third generation Insight. Competing with the Toyota Prius and hybrid models such as the Ford Fusion, the car can travel short distances on battery power alone.

Unlike some of its rivals, the Honda engine often only acts as a generator, recharging the battery to run the electric motor. While the first and second generation Insights made it to the European market, it's believed this third-gen car will not be offered in the UK. It goes on sale in the second half of 2018.

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Image caption Alfonso Albaisa with the new Nissan Xmotion crossover concept vehicle

In a design challenge to show what the future of SUVs (sport utility vehicles) could look like, Nissan has revealed the XMotion concept, which, according to the Japanese brand, combines Japanese culture and design with American convenience.

It has seven digital screens inside and is the brainchild of Nissan's new chief designer Alfonso Albaisa.

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Image caption The new GAC Motor Enverge concept, an electric compact crossover vehicle

Chinese manufacturer GAC unveiled The Enverge which is built on GAC's all-new electric vehicle (EV) platform and is powered by a 71kWh battery that gives the small crossover a range of more than 370 miles.

The car attracted a lot of attention at the show, with its gull-wing doors and "floating" digital dash-screen. Among its more outlandish features are the headlights, which slide out and detach to be used as floodlights.

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Image caption The new Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept vehicle

Lexus unveiled a full-sized luxury SUV concept, the LF-1 Limitless, which is designed to accept a range of engines from fuel cell, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric.

It also has what the car maker is calling a "four-dimensional navigation system", with the fourth dimension - time - meaning the vehicle has an intelligent assistant on-board that anticipates destinations based on the driver's schedule and other information.

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Image caption The new Infiniti Q Inspiration concept vehicle

The Infiniti Q Inspiration concept is a mid-size saloon providing a glimpse into the Japanese brand's future design direction and how its next fleet of saloon cars may look.

The car is packed with tech, including a digital dashboard and a new ProPilot autonomous driving system, which includes options for motorway driving. Some questioned why it was not electric, given that parent firm Nissan is so committed to such vehicles.

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Image caption An autonomous truck with no room for a driver was one of the vehicles on display

The motor show was not all about cars. An autonomous concept truck was showed off by Swedish transportation start-up Einride. Huge amounts of goods travel by road and trucks account for a significant proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, so greener trucks are an important part of transport's future.

The T-Pod is about 23ft (7m) long, can hold 15 standard pallets and its 200kWh battery provides up to 124 miles on a single charge. There are no windows and, perhaps most radically, nowhere for a driver to sit.