Year in review: the best transport stories of 2021


Not only did car sales plunge during the pandemic, but the traditional auto show fell almost into oblivion during 2021. None of these things slowed down the inexorable shift to electric vehicles, something that has been preparing for many years and will continue to flourish throughout the decade. The slowdown also hasn’t stopped automakers from working on spectacular collaborations and concepts; we still need a little escape from the future. Here is our pick of the ten best transport stories that moved our souls the most in 2021.

Top 10 transport stories of the year

01. Virgil Abloh’s version of the Mercedes-Maybach is functional, fun and forward-looking

Interior of Project Maybach by Virgil Abloh (Image courtesy Mercedes-Benz)

The Project Maybach show car is a collaboration between the late Virgil Abloh and Mercedes-Benz Design Director Gorden Wagener. It was unveiled during Miami Art Week at the Rubell Museum, as a tribute to the creative polymath, who died on November 28, 2021 following a battle with cancer. As with many Abloh projects, this is as much an effort to follow and move beyond the slippery signifiers of luxury as it is an exercise in design. Like the Geländewagen Project, the unique G-Class created in a previous Abloh / Mercedes collaboration, the Maybach Project, as it is labeled, plays with the attributes of luxury and luxury travel in delicate space. where they meet the quieter language of function and utility. Writer: Nick Compton

02. The winners of the Polestar Design Contest 2021 reinvent the future life

David Vultaggio’s winning concept of Polestar H_UB (image courtesy of Polestar)

Conceptual designs are a good way to explore the mindset of a business. For the second annual Polestar 2021 design competition, the EV company continued to promote the idea of ​​’progress’, inviting design professionals and students to’ present innovative thinking that encourages positive change in society, including including responses to the current climate crisis ”. Writer: Jonathan Bell

03. Mathieu Lehanneur’s Suite N ° 4 Renault concept car is a “mobile hotel room”

Concept Suite N ° 4 by Mathieu Lehanneur for Renault (image courtesy of Renault)

The “chamber on wheels” is a popular conceptual trope in automotive design, driven by the promise of autonomous driving and the sad recognition that we spend far too much time in our cars. Renault approached the idea of ​​cars as architecture from a slightly different angle, teaming up with French designer Mathieu Lehanneur to create the new concept car Renault Suite N ° 4, a radical reinterpretation of one of the most popular designs. most emblematic of the brand of all time, the Renault 4L, which is now celebrating its 60th anniversary. Writer: Jonathan Bell

04. The VanMoof V is a new generation high-speed electric bicycle for the city

VanMoof V model electric bike (image courtesy of VanMoof)

VanMoof brings high performance to the world of electric bikes with a new model designed for long distances. The Dutch company hopes that the next VanMoof V model will be fast enough, safe and of sufficient range to serve as a true car replacement, especially in countries like the Netherlands, where there is already substantial infrastructure and the only Constraints on journeys are endurance and battery power. Writer: Jonathan Bell

05. Creative motorhomes: innovative designs for elevated escapes

Hymer VisionVenture concept motorhome (image courtesy of Hymer)

One of the many side effects of the pandemic era has been the surge in interest in motorhomes, mobile homes and off-grid living. The trend had already seen tremendous momentum on social media, in the form of many photogenic couples and individuals dedicated to capturing the ever-changing utopian panorama of “van life”. The staid and conservative image of the traditional motorhome and recreational vehicle is a world of its own. The latter certainly influenced the former, however, with contemporary campers becoming more compact and better suited to long life on and off-road, rather than serving as expansive glorified vacation cabins filled with cantilevered rooms, couches. upholstered and a flat. screen on each wall. Writer: Jonathan Bell

06. Paul Smith takes a ride in the new Electric Mini

Paul Smith’s ‘Mini Strip’ interior features cork detailing, specially designed toggle switches, bright blue flooring, and orange mountaineering rope door handles (Photograph by Uwe Kristandt)

When Oliver Heilmer, director of the Mini design studio in Munich, called Paul Smith last spring to talk about working together on a new project, neither of them really knew what he was getting into. Heilmer had loved Smith’s striped version of the original Mini designed by Alec Issigonis, one of the three orders (Kate Moss tattooed hers with spider webs, while David Bowie went for a full mirror finish) unveiled at the Design Museum in London to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Mini in 1999. So he asked Smith to come up with something similar for the new Electric Mini. Writer: Deyan Sudjic

07. Classic Electric Restorations: Iconic Electric Car Designs

Totem GT Electric, price on request (image courtesy of Totem)

What started out as an extremely specialized business is becoming a staple in the classic car world. Whether it’s a simple conversion for an everyday sports car or a complete rebuild that creates a quiet super luxury machine, here is our selection of companies dedicated to classic electric restomods – bringing in the old cars in the 21st century and beyond. Writer: Jonathan Bell

08. The brilliant Honda e: (almost) perfection in a small package

The Honda e is a realized concept car (image courtesy of Honda)

The new Honda e is, remarkably, one of the first electric cars of the modern era to specifically address urban drivers. Electric cars have been around for about 130 years, but it wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that entrepreneurs began equipping micro-cars with rudimentary batteries to help weather the then oil crisis and the engine’s imminent demise. internal combustion. Things didn’t turn out that way, leaving cars like the Zagato Zele and the Fiat X1 / 23 concept as intriguing design dead ends that could have led to a very different future. Writer: Jonathan Bell

09. Hermès hits the hyperdrive with a unique car design for McLaren

Hermès McLaren Speedtail (Photography by Oskar Proctor)

The last project to cross the historic threshold of Hermès is this spectacular transformation of a McLaren Speedtail. There is nothing standard about the Speedtail, the current flagship of McLaren’s Ultimate series of hypercars. McLaren has decades of experience handcrafting the wickedly complex and advanced components that go into a Formula 1 car; its Ultimate series translates this know-how into a machine for the road. Following on from the first Ultimate Series car, the Senna, the Speedtail is a three-seater, hybrid-powered, handcrafted limited edition, with just 106 units entering garages of well-established collectors around the world. Carved out of carbon fiber and with a list price of £ 2.1million, the car doesn’t come with any additional options – McLaren just assumed that every customer would want to add their own personal touch. Writer: Jonathan Bell

10. Hyundai and Kia advance on design issues

What drives Hyundai? A combination of design, desire and ability. Korea’s Hyundai Motor has a good chance of becoming the first truly modern mobility company in the post-automotive era. Over the past two decades, a combination of industrial strength, superior designs and a drive to innovate has enabled the brand to become a global player. In addition to the eponymous auto brand, Hyundai also owns a significant portion of Kia Motors, with its luxury division Genesis, and the recently announced IONIQ and HTWO sub-brands for electric and hydrogen vehicles respectively. Even with a raging pandemic, in 2020 the company sold 3.7 million Hyundai vehicles and 2.6 million Kia vehicles, placing it at the top of the list of major players. Writer: Jonathan Bell

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