From tiny robots to yachts and helicopters.
Carmakers have always been lifestyle brands as well as technology developers. So as well as producing cars, we can get anything from Honda's now retired ASIMO humanoid robot to Aston Martin's current 66-floor, 818-foot tall, condo tower project in Miami.
Sometimes, you can see the direct link between a brand and its side-project, like BMW building the bobsled that took the USA team to Olympic gold in 2014. Sometimes, you get Ferrari branded golf clubs or Rolls-Royce luggage. We'll ignore the obvious things, though, and concentrate on the coolest stuff automakers make that aren't cars.
According to Audi, the Luna Cycle Apex is a high-performance sports machine for sporty people. E-bikes are surprisingly popular, and this one uses the same "Harmonic Drive System" as the PG Bikes Blacktail, which retails for $80,000. From there, the rest of the bike is engineered to the standard you would expect from an Audi flagship product. According to Audi, in "Pedelec" mode, it is capable of 49 mph and has a battery-only range of around 43 miles.
The Luna Cycle Apex weighs 46 pounds, which is incredible for an electric bike with a full suspension system. It even has carbon-fiber wheels with carbon-fiber spokes and costs around $20,000.
As a stark contrast to Audi's electric bicycle, you can get an Aston Martin branded helicopter. It's an ACH130 aircraft built by a company called Airbus Corporate Helicopters, and the exterior and interior designs are "generated" by Aston Martin. There's a choice of four liveries for the outside of the chopper, each with complementary interiors. The first one has Stirling Green paint and Skyfall Silver touches, but customers can also opt for Xenon Grey, Arizona, or Ultramarine Black. The inside is plush and luxurious, as you would expect, and the detailed seats come in Oxford Tan, Pure Black, Cormorant, or Ivory leather.
If you think your office chair is stylish, light, and comfortable, then you may want to skip this one. The Audi R18 Ultra Chair was inspired by Audi's successful Le Mans prototype and uses the same sheet aluminum and carbon fiber composites as the R18 race car. It was designed by Clemens Weisshar and Reed Kram using "load data" from more than 1,500 people. Audi then went to work on the chair's geometry and carbon fiber weave to make it even lighter, and the final product is on display weighing just 5 pounds.
The British supercar maker has partnered with the Chinese cellphone maker OnePlus twice now, and the second product bearing McLaren's name is the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition. The phone uses the latest Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm and comes with McLaren's Papaya Orange highlights, with the outer casing trimmed in Alcantara. The phone's software is tailored for McLaren owners, including animations and a minimalist clock display that's "inspired by McLaren's timeless dashboard instrumentation." Like a McLaren car, the phone is fast and on the technological cutting edge.
Back in 2017, Lexus revealed a concept for a 42-foot Lexus Sport Yacht. In a spectacular example of under-promising and over-delivering, Lexus then delivered a decedent 65-foot luxury yacht. To build this beautiful cruiser, Lexus partnered with Marquis Yachts of Wisconsin, US, and the LY 650 features a fused composite hull constructed with carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic and a Volvo IPS 1200 marine engine to power it. The yacht also features an interior at a level of luxury most people never get to enjoy in their homes. If you think a Lexus LC 500 is on the pricey side at $92,950, the yacht takes the proverbial biscuit at a staggering $3.7 million.
Honda Marine is a subdivision of the Japanese automaker that has been making boat engines since 1964. You can buy Honda's VTEC based BF250 iST marine engines and put them on any boat you please. However, the SanJuanYachts SJ32 luxury fishing yacht is the result of a partnership between the two companies and explicitly built to incorporate a pair of the Honda engines. The boat comes with a Thermal Orange paint scheme inspired by the Acura NSX, and each engine delivers 250 horsepower for a total of 500 hp. It also comes with a hefty price tag that, depending on options, is anywhere from $300,000 to $450,000.
The most absurd thing on this list is not a joke. The Nissan ProPILOT chair is actually available in Japan, and it's designed "for people who can't stand queuing." Essentially, it's an autonomous chair that uses a form of stop/start cruise control you would usually find on a car to follow the chair ahead or next to it at a fixed distance. While it does look like some sort of WALL-E inspired piece of super lazy furniture, we suspect Nissan wanted a way to work on stop/start cruise control and get some publicity at the same time.
While Toyota's Kirobo Mini Robot is a joyful little toy, the background is not that uplifting. It's designed as a synthetic baby companion for the Japanese market where the birth rate has shrunk dramatically and left many women childless. Kirobo means 'hope,' and the little robot is 10 cm high and can talk, gesture to you, as well as detect and respond to your emotions. Toyota is also interested in our behavior and emotion while driving and its promotional material suggests Kirobo could become a companion that's in tune with drivers' mood to suggest places to visit, routes to travel, and music to listen to.
Honda's UNI-CUB is descended from the research and development of the ASIMO robot. It was first introduced in 2012 as a personal mobility device featuring balance control technology and an omnidirectional driving wheel system. That means its rider can move forward, backward, laterally, and diagonally to keep pace with someone walking. The UNI-CUB is in its third generation of development and has become lighter and more comfortable through each iteration. While it looks every bit as nerdy as a Segway, there's a lot of promise for people with actual mobility and health issues if Honda can get it into production.
Your average hookah is made of glass and steel and enjoyed in the Middle East as a cultural pastime and in the west by hipsters. Bugatti clearly has a huge interest in appealing to its Middle Eastern demographic and made the hookah in 2013 in partnership with luxury pipe maker Desvall. Because it features a Bugatti logo, the hookah was made with a pure titanium frame then wrapped in unique carbon fiber and hand-stitched leather. Only 150 were made at $100,000 apiece, and, to this day, it's still the most over-engineered water bong ever created.