Donut-shaped EV goes back to the future, hovering in Beijing

This two-person transporter appears straight out of "Back to the Future II."

But it's not. Volkswagen AG, the folks who brought you the people's car, brings this prototype to light with the help of its People's Car Project, a contest that generated 119,000 ideas, most notably a two-seat, electric Hover Car, that looks like the metallic version of a massive heavy equipment tire.

The project was launched in 2011 and resulted in three top picks. The Hover Car, which travels above ground on an electro-mechanical roadway, is joined by the Smart Key and Music Car. All were on display at the Beijing Motor Show.

"The creative ideas from the People’s Car Project give us a valuable insight into the wishes of Chinese drivers", says Simon Loasby, head of design at Volkswagen Group China, in a statement. "The trend is towards safe cars that can easily navigate overcrowded roads and have a personal, emotional and exciting design."

The video is entirely in Chinese but gives an excellent idea of how the hover car operates.
According to the Volkswagen website, the Music Car is equipped with organic light emitting diodes, and the exterior color of the vehicle changes with the driver’s choice of music. "The car thus becomes a means of self-expression and a fashion statement for young drivers," officials say.

The Smart Key is a slim 9-millimeter key with "a high-resolution touchscreen which keeps the driver up to date on the fuel situation, climate conditions and the car’s security via the 3G network. The driver can also monitor the vehicle from a bird’s eye perspective through real-time satellite transmission."

Volkswagen Group's Luca de Meo, director of marketing, says that in "a long-term context" the project will influence the company's product strategy. However, "the design of our models will, however, continue to reflect the tradition of the Volkswagen brand."

So don't expect to see the Hover Car in the commercial market anytime soon. But it is cool.