It’s generally accepted that to develop new cars with a green ethos designers will have to start thinking outside the traditional box, but this year at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, Honda decided to redefine the box while they were at it. The company unveiled its concept vehicle christened “Puyo,” a name meant to onomatopoetically convey the Japanese phrase for “touching the vehicle’s soft body.” They hope drivers will regard the Puyo as more a lovable pet than a piece of machinery.
|Honda’s “Puyo” Concept Car
With four independently steered wheels,
the Puyo can do a 306 degree turn in-place.
Body-wise the Puyo looks a bit like a marshmallow on wheels. Outfitted with panoramic windows and a glass roof, the vehicle’s body is crafted of a soft, gel-like material derived from silicone.
The construction is seamless and contoured so that there are no corners. At the same time, however, the material allows for the Puyo to be the mood ring of automotive design.
Lighting under the luminescent body allows the Puyo to glow in different colors to convey how it’s feeling. Green means the car is happy.
The soft body was conceived to cause less harm to pedestrians in the event of a collision. Inside padded materials protect occupants in the spacious cabin in much the same way. The seats are reminiscent of barstools with backs while the second row is a comfortable bench that’s really almost a couch. Single side doors open out and up in a scissor-like fashion to give access to both rows.
The Puyo, described as a “city car” concept, can turn 360 degrees in place making the idea of “reverse” obsolete. The driver steers intuitively with a joystick while seated in front of a fluid meter display in a gray cloth dash that includes a warm blue speedometer. The dash rises up toward the driver when the car’s engine starts and retracts when the ignition is cut.
Sadly, there are few released details on the engine itself except that it’s a fuel cell unit for quiet and environmentally sound, clean propulsion. Honda says it’s small and given the design of the Puyo, it would have to be. There just isn’t anything there that constitutes a “hood” in the conventional sense.
There’s a great deal to like in the Puyo concept, even if it never hits the streets. The high visibility and zero turning radius make the Puyo ideal for maneuvering in crowded city conditions. It’s comfortable without superfluous amenities and the fuel cell engine is right on track for the green street cred that has become the lynch pin of 21st century automotive design. Unconventional thinking is the breeding ground of important technological breakthroughs and, if nothing else, the Puyo is unconventional.