There's nothing petrol-heads love more than contemplating the cars of the future. The possibilities are almost endless. Perhaps the most fascinating part of techno-speculation is the way everyone sees 'progress' so differently.
For some, the future is green, with eco-developments their primary concern. For others, the priority is retro-futurism of the sort only seen in the movies, with aesthetic innovation at the forefront and practicality a distant second.
Some ideas are little more than the pipe dreams of over-excited car designers. Our top five list includes cars that are either in development and expected to hit the market over the next few years, have a fighting chance of one day becoming a reality, or just wildly implausible but incredibly exciting nevertheless...
- Mercedes Benz Biome
Designed especially for the 2010 LA Auto Show, the proposed Mercedes Biome fulfilled the brief of a car weighing less than 1000lbs that could carry four people in comfort and safety.
The real innovation, though, is the concept of a lab-grown car that harvests energy from the sun, making the vehicle part of the eco-system. The idea is to store solar energy in liquid chemical bonds (the Wellsian-sounding BioNectar4534).
Mercedes have gone as far as retrofitting trees with receptors which can harvest excess energy, transforming it into BN4534.
The inbuilt incentive to plant more trees and help the ecosystem is the real masterstroke, and the Biome will be completely compostable after its life, piling on yet more green credentials to what promises to be a zero-emissions vehicle.
- BMW GINA
Even by the standards of the most outlandish concept cars, BMW's GINA Light Visionary Model takes some beating.
Here the innovation is a shape-shifting, fluid design using seamless fabric over an adjustable metal frame, which allows the driver to change shape as they please.
This one will never hit the market - it wouldn't be robust enough to pass safety standards - but it has been fully designed to drive properly, however impractical that would be.
According to BMW's design team, the GINA is 'intended to steer creativity and research into new directions' rather than go into series production.
- Cadillac Aera Concept
For decades, car manufacturers have been spending a lot of time, effort and money on improving the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, and advances in hybrid and full-electric models seem to be paving the way for a new kind of transport.
But Cadillac has thrown the old and new rulebooks out, opting for a compressed air propulsion system, theoretically capable of travelling a thousand miles before having to refuel.
An absolutely barmy-looking polyhedral structure was the car giant's response to the LA Auto Show Design Challenge of a lightweight, roadworthy vehicle. The Aera, if it happens, would revolutionise the car industry.
- Bugatti Veyron
If you are after the last word in high-end sports car technology, and have a spare million quid burning a hole in your pocket, then the Bugatti Veyron might just be the car for you.
For starters, it’s the fastest production car in the world, with a top speed of 267 miles per hour, and a 0-60mph time of just 2.4 seconds.
Despite being incredibly fast, it is also remarkably easy to drive - even at high speeds - thanks to innovative technologies such as its specialized run flat tyres and a sixteen cylinder engine.
- Tesla Model X
This US carmaker has been leading the way in electric car technology since it was founded in the mid-2000s, firstly with the world’s first all-electric sports car, the Roadster, and more recently with the Model S luxury sedan.
The Model X is the latest in their product line, combining a compact shape with a spacious interior that can hold seven people including the driver.
Although this car is packed to the gills with innovations, the most eye-catching has to be the 17-inch touchscreen dashboard, which makes the small dashboards seen on most vehicles look positively Stone Age by comparison.
This information was provided to you by Allianz Your Cover (www.yourcoverinsurance.co.uk).