Sometimes, funky concept cars aren’t the weirdest things automakers create.
Considering how much technology goes into designing, developing and manufacturing a vehicle, it’s no surprise automakers dabble in other markets. With the rise of autonomous driving, some companies are leveraging their experience to create products for other segments. Other times, automakers collaborate with existing companies to create lifestyle products to further extend the reach of their brand.
But sometimes automakers put their brand name on products that seem a bit out there. Here are the Top 10 weirdest things automakers make that aren’t cars.
10. Lexus Sport Yacht Concept
Lexus isn’t the only automaker that has collaborated on a yacht, but the Japanese automaker isn’t as prestigious of a brand as say, Mercedes-AMG or Bugatti. But what makes the Lexus Sport Yacht Concept so weird is that it actually employs a pair of Lexus V8 engines and styling was done by the Lexus Design Center in Toyota City, Japan. The idea actually came to life after Toyota president Akio Toyoda visited the Toyota Marine Department to spend several days on the water driving their new Ponam range of premium yachts.
The company has no plans of producing the yacht for general consumers, but a bespoke one-off was done with help from the Marquis-Carver Yacht Group of Pulaski, Wisconsin.
9. Aston Martin Condo Tower
Now there’s a condo fitting for James Bond. The British automaker might best be known for supplying 007’s supercars, but it’s branching out and developing a 66-story condo tower called the Aston Martin Residences in downtown Miami, Florida. Aston Martin is partnering with wealthy Argentine developers on the project and it marks the first time the company has been involved with real estate. A team from Aston Martin will actually design the building’s common areas and amenities, including lobbies, fitness centers and a spa.
The project was announced in October 2016 and has a current completion date of 2021.
8. Toyota Kirobo Mini Robot
Unlike what Honda has been doing with its well-known ASIMO robot, you can actually own the Toyota Kirobo Mini Robot. Reuters reports the robot was designed as a synthetic baby companion in Japan, where birth rates have plummeted, leaving many women childless. While that’s a rather depressing way to promote the product, the Kirobo Mini Robot would make a novel companion on solo road trips, fitting nicely in your cup holder and keeping you company. It’s going on sale sometime this year with a price tag around $400 and will be sold at car dealers in the Tokyo area before heading out to the rest of Japan.
We prefer to see the Kirobo Mini Robot as a conversation partner, demonstrating the progress Toyota has made in robotics and AI over recent years.
7. Lamborghini Speaker
You may have heard of Porsche Design’s brand of lifestyle products, which ranges from convertible laptop/tablets to Bluetooth speakers and headphones. But one could argue nothing from Porsche Design looks as extravagant as the Ixoost EsaVox speaker. The EsaVox is manufactured from authentic Lamborghini parts, with an original Lamborghini exhaust taking center stage. The styling of the overall speaker’s design carries a heavy Lamborghini influence, with sharp lines and edges as well as a power switch shaped like the push button starter found in actual Lamborghinis.
The housing is constructed from wood and carbon fiber and inside are a pair of one-inch tweeters, two full-range 6.5-inch drivers, two eight-inch woofers and one 15-inch subwoofer. The unit features Bluetooth 4.0 and an RCA audio connector for playing music. And like exotic Lamborghini sports cars, the EsaVox is available in black, orange, red and yellow.
Oh yeah, it also costs over $21,000.
6. BMW Bobsled
Not only did BMW craft a bobsled, it made one that carried Team USA to a Winter Olympics victory at Sochi. It was the first time Team USA took home a medal in two-man bobsledding since 1952, finishing third for the bronze medal. BMW subsidiary Designworks helped with the project, and the result was a bobsled made out of carbon fiber and taking on the sleek shape you’d find on a Formula 1 car. Now, the weight of an Olympic bobsled is fixed at 374 pounds, but engineers were able to distribute the weight cleverly, shifting the center of gravity for better steering. Sound familiar? It’s not too far from how BMW approaches its cars.
The German automaker reportedly spent $24-million on the project, but that’s a small price to pay for an Olympic medal.
5. Audi R18 Chair
Built by Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram in collaboration with Audi’s Lightweight Design Center is the Audi R18 chair. The multi-material space frame is made from carbon composites, carbon micro-sandwich and high-strength aluminum to weigh just 4.85 pounds (2.2 kilograms). While we’ve never had the opportunity to actually sit in the Audi R18 chair, it looks as if the seat in an R18 race car might actually be more comfortable.
4. Honda UNI-CUB
You might be wondering how the Honda UNI-CUB isn’t the strangest thing on the list. Well, that’s because it at least ties into the idea of mobility, which isn’t too far off from a Honda vehicle. But the UNI-CUB is indeed strange, and we’re getting uncomfortable just watching someone use it. The device features Honda’s proprietary balance control technology and has the world’s first omni-directional driving wheel system, making it possible to have the same freedom of moving forward, backward, laterally and diagonally as you do walking.
For now, the Honda UNI-CUB still isn’t for sale, but the company continues developing it and has ambitions of producing it. Anyone else thinking of that scene in WALL-E?
3. Bugatti Hookah
Most recently, Bugatti unveiled a wildly luxurious yacht built in collaboration with Palmer Johnson. But before that, the French automaker partnered up with luxury shisha pipe maker Desvall to create a $100,000 hookah pipe in 2013. That’s not a typo – Bugatti by Desvall is handmade in Sweden and features a pure titanium frame wrapped in special edition carbon fiber outer casing with hand sewn leather details. Production is limited to just 150 units and we wouldn’t be surprised if it was all sold out by now.
2. Nissan ProPILOT Chair
Nissan says this autonomous chair was created for people who can’t stand waiting in line, but we think that’s just a nice way of saying lazy. The ProPILOT chair is actually a follow-up to an Intelligent Parking Chair Nissan introduced in early 2016. What makes the ProPILOT chair so unique is that it automatically follows the chair ahead of it, maintaining a fixed distance and traveling along a set path. It’s a bit like how semi-autonomous cruise control driving is operated in vehicles.
Late last year, the automaker put the ProPILOT chair to real-world testing, with restaurants across Japan applying to use the chairs for waiting patrons. Now this is more like the scene out of WALL-E.
1. Lexus Hoverboard
It’s the weirdest thing an automaker makes that isn’t a car, but it’s also the most awesome thing an automaker makes that isn’t a car. Lexus brought everyone’s Back to the Future dreams to reality by creating a hoverboard. The Japanese automaker calls it “Slide” and it actually works like how you would imagine a hoverboard should. Its design features the iconic Lexus spindle grille signature shape and uses materials found in various Lexus vehicles, including natural bamboo.
Now if only Lexus could get this into the hands of consumers at a reasonable price; they might actually become more popular than its cars.