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Dezeen’s top 10 non-fossil fuel car and truck designs of 2021

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Heritage Series Grandeur by Hyundai

Electric vehicles were a hot topic this year amid growing concern about the climate impact of petrol and diesel engines. For our review of 2021 Dezeen rounds up 10 non-fossil-fueled vehicles, including a coupe designed by Virgil Abloh and an electric car by Heatherwick Studio.


Non-fossil fuel car
Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Project Maybach by Virgil Abloh and Mercedes-Benz

German carmaker Mercedes-Benz unveiled Project Maybach, a solar-cell-powered electric show car developed in partnership with Virgil Abloh, shortly after the American fashion designer’s death.

The off-road coupe is nearly six metres long and has a transparent front bonnet housing solar cells that would be used to charge the battery.

Find out more about Project Maybach ›


Heritage Series Grandeur by Hyundai
Image courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company

Heritage Series Grandeur by Hyundai

The Heritage Series Grandeur is a modernised, all-electric concept version of the 1980s Hyundai Grandeur saloon car.

It retains the original car’s boxy shape and single-spoke steering wheel while introducing 2021-ready updates, such as LED headlights and an ultra-wide touch screen dashboard display.

Find out more about the Heritage Series Grandeur ›


Suite No.4 Renault concept car by Mathieu Lehanneur
Photo courtesy of Renault

Renault 4L Suite No.4 by Mathieu Lehanneur

Another example of a classic car given an electrified makeover, the Renault 4L Suite No.4 has the same lines and exterior dimensions as the 1960s original but features new panoramic windows across much of its back, sides and roof. The roof also contains transparent solar panels.

It was dreamed up by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, who said the Suite No.4 “isn’t a car, it’s travel architecture”.

Find out more about the Suite No.4 ›


Airo by Heatherwick Studio
Photo is by Yanli Tao, courtesy of Heatherwick Studio

Airo by Heatherwick Studio

British designer Thomas Heatherwick‘s studio this year unveiled its prototype of Airo, an electric car created for Chinese brand IM Motors that is set to go into production in 2023.

Heatherwick has promised Airo will “vacuum up pollutants from other cars” as it drives, by virtue of it being fitted with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering system.

Find out more about Airo ›


Canoo Pickup
Photo is by Richard Thompson III

Pickup by Canoo

In November, US automotive start-up Canoo introduced an all-electric pickup truck with a variety of hidden tricks.

For example, the modular truck bed is extendable, while there is a fold-out workbench in the space where the engine would traditionally be found.

Find out more about the Canoo Pickup ›


XPeng HT Aero flying car
Image courtesy of XPeng

Flying car by XPeng

Chinese manufacturer XPeng plans to mass-release this electric flying car as soon as 2024.

The design is unusual among urban air motility vehicle concepts in that it would be capable of driving on the road as well as functioning in the air, with a foldable dual rotor mechanism converting it from a car to a flying machine.

Find out more about the XPeng flying car ›


Lexus hydrogen-powered ROV Concept as seen from above on a sand road
Image courtesy of Lexus

ROV Concept by Lexus

This off-road buggy is not electric but instead runs an internal combustion engine that uses hydrogen in place of fossil fuel.

Lexus, which developed the concept, said the vehicle generates “near-zero emissions” while retaining the rumbling engine tone and instant responsiveness beloved by petrol heads.

Find out more about the ROV Concept ›


Exterior of New Car for London by PriestmanGoode
Image courtesy of PriestmanGoode

New Car for London by PriestmanGoode

The New Car for London is a driverless, electric ride-hailing vehicle concept designed by PriestmanGoode.

It is intended to be specific to London to combat the global domination of major ride-sharing apps, with the car’s angular profile informed by the British capital’s brutalist buildings and its interiors reminiscent of the Tube’s distinctive upholstery.

Find out more about the New Car for London ›


BMW i-Vision
Image courtesy of BMW

i Vision Circular by BMW

BMW‘s i Vision Circular concept car is electric, but what sets it apart from other battery-powered vehicles is its ability to disassemble at the touch of a button.

Designed to demonstrate how the automobile industry could embrace circular economic principles, it is made from recycled and recyclable materials and held together by detachable connections, rather than permanent adhesives, so the parts can be separated and reused.

Find out more about the i Vision Circular ›


Volta Trucks develops electric 16-tonne lorry with “glasshouse-style” cabin
Photo courtesy of Volta Trucks

Volta Zero by Volta Trucks and Astheimer

This 16-tonne electric lorry, developed by Swedish startup Volta Trucks in collaboration with Warwick-based consultancy Astheimer, was named product design of the year at the 2021 Dezeen Awards.

By placing the batteries in the chassis, the designers were able to free up space in the driver’s cab, with the low, central sitting position and panoramic windows intended to be safer for pedestrians and other road users than standard heavy goods vehicles.

Find out more about the Volta Zero ›

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