Over the last 20 years, manufacturers have changed the way they produce cars. While the late 20th century was all about power with monstrous V8 engines, turbochargers, and fuel-injectors, the new millennium has seen automotive giants focus on more eco-friendly vehicles.

The latest fleet of potential roll-outs is incredibly fuel-efficient, using new and novel ways to power greener driving. From solar panels on the roof to in-wheel motors, these cars represent the future of automotive travel.

Car companies are addressing their carbon footprint by creating machines to help us, the consumers, become less fossil fuel-reliant. This may be reflected in the vehicle’s tiny size and weight and its mileage and mile range.

These urban cars are meant to go short distances with as few passengers and little freight as possible. Other new electric cars follow the sedan model and are meant for long distances, and they accelerate their charging abilities with innovations like solar panels.

Everyone from Fisker to Ford to Volkswagen is cashing in on the electric vehicle (EV) craze. With 17 countries committing to going carbon-free by 2050, EVs are an excellent way to aid environmental reform efforts. Here are seven extraordinary cars that will stretch your conception of what a car actually is.

 seven extraordinary cars

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1. Volkswagen NILS

A single-occupancy vehicle from renowned German carmaker Volkswagen, the Nils is more like a transportation pod than a car.

Built as a passenger-less commuter device, the Nils has minimal cargo space, so it is ultra-light and highly fuel-efficient. The VW Nils only has a 40-mile range, potentially making it the ideal compact vehicle for urban transportation.

2. Fisker 2022 Ocean SUV

With a low starting price of under $40,000 and a broad range of up to 400 miles, the Fisker Ocean offers stiff competition in the EV market. Defined as an electric SUV, the Ocean has a spacious interior and can go from 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds, according to its manufacturers.

Fisker has also partnered with Electrify America!, a map to all the public charging stations across the U.S. and a must-read for any long-haul EV driver. Fisker plans to offer complimentary charging at some of these locations.

3. Volkswagen ID.4

Also falling under the electric SUV category, the ID.4 from Volkswagen is further along in the production process than Volkswagen’s other green vehicle, the VW Nils.

Boasting a roomy cabin, enviable mileage per charge, and a reasonable starting price of $39,999, VW is attempting, with the ID.4, to make an EV for everyone. It’s highly customizable and within a middle-class budget.

Volkswagen ID.4

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4. Mercedes-Benz F125

Originally unveiled at the Frankfurt Car Show in 2011, the Mercedes Benz F125 is the much-anticipated concept car that will conceivably run on hydrogen, making it a standout in the automotive market.

This car is not yet a physical reality, as the technology is mostly conceptual. It runs on electricity powered by hydrogen fuel cells, with the enormous gullwing doors giving access to a double row of seats and a roomy cabin.

The F in the F125 stands for Forschungsfahrzeug or experimental car and, at the moment, the F125 is just that—an experiment. Mercedes is still hopeful, however, that this front-runner of their S-class will make waves by 2025.

5. Chevrolet EN-V 2.0

Once part of a program that encouraged sustainability in Shanghai’s commuter world, the car looks like a motorized ladybug. Its compact design, with gullwing doors that open on either side, reveals a driver’s seat and one for the passenger.

This electric car is still a concept, but it is much closer to being a reality with Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s partnership. The cars are a joint effort between General Motors and Segway Inc. and can be driven autonomously or by a person.

The EN-V 2.0 uses a third of the resources of a standard vehicle and can carry two passengers. Its exceptional maneuverability makes it ideal for densely populated urban areas.

6. Nissan Pivo 3

The Pivo 3 is a most unusual vehicle, and not just because it’s a tiny electric car in the brand’s lineup of giant gas-guzzlers. This electric car, the successor of the Pivo 1 and 2, looks different from any other car you may have seen. The Pivo in the car’s name refers to the verb pivot, and this car can certainly do that. Nissan uses in-wheel motors, as a conventional CV-axle won’t turn as tightly as these wheels will.

This car features one seat up front and two directly behind it. The seats are staggered, so the driver’s seat occupies a central location in the car, and the two passenger seats flank it. This may seem like an odd configuration, but it is vital to the ride and handling capabilities.

The car doors have an automated valet system, in which the doors slide backward automatically, helping you get out of the car when it’s parked in tight spaces—and it can fit in some tight spaces since it measures only 10’ long.

7. Ford C-Max Solar Energi

The standout attributes of this hybrid electric vehicle from Ford are its solar panels on the roof and the same astonishing range of other Ford electric vehicles. Although the solar panels alone aren’t enough to create a full charge, Ford partnered with California’s SunPower and the Georgia Institute of Technology to offer a sun bonnet, which works like a magnifying glass for the sun and sits right over the panels.

You can get a full 8-hour charge in only four hours, which means you can drive for around 620 miles off one charge. You can also charge the C-Max Solar Energi through a traditional port off the grid.

Ford C-Max Solar Energi

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The Takeaway

Some astonishing concepts are slowly becoming a reality. From tiny urban cars to long-range vehicles, to solar panels on roofs, the automobile industry’s future looks bright. To protect your vehicle and investment, get the right car cover to keep your EV free from dust, debris, and inclement weather.

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