Concept cars can be the ultimate tease. Everything you have ever wanted in an automobile appears one day at an auto show, complete with suicide doors and 20-inch wheels … then it never appears again. Occasionally, there are times when concepts make it to production only to become a shell of their original design. Finally, there are the cars that automakers say are on the way yet become backlogged due to a lack of financing, engineering problems, or other issues never considered possible.
The production model that fell short of its original design is a disappointment, but it’s far better than a car that never arrives. In recent years, there have been a large number of cars and SUVs that have been promised yet continue being delayed on their way to a market that has shown a high demand for the automobile in question.
Here are 10 of those vehicles taking far too long to begin production. One day soon — seriously — they may appear at an auto dealership near you.
1. Acura NSX
“Days and nights in the studio, and hours in the wind tunnel.”
Until recently, that was how Acura described the existence of its stunning NSX concept on the car’s dedicated webpage. They might have added, “Years on the rumor mill yet not a second on the assembly line.” From its emergence in Detroit way back in 2007 (sitting U.S. president: George W. Bush) to its flameout during a 2014 test on the Nürburgring, the Acura NSX has been one hotly anticipated hybrid supercar. It took until late 2013 to get a read on its 500-horsepower powertrain (twin-turbo gasoline engine plus a trio of electric motors), yet there is still no finished product.
At last word, the NSX will begin production in the fall of 2015, and Acura sent it out to pace Pikes Peak at the end of June to prove it’s really happening this time. The moment could not arrive too soon: If you start the clock in 2007, the decade mark is not far off.
2. Mazda6 Diesel
Mazda’s SkyActiv gas engine is an auto industry star for its performance and efficiency, so U.S. consumers couldn’t be blamed for coveting the diesel model that was originally slated to appear in 2013. Mazda decided there wasn’t enough zip (zoom-zoom?) in the diesel, so that timeline was pushed back to 2014. As we head into late 2015, it’s clear that benchmark was tossed out the window.
In fact, there is no word on when the diesel variant will show its face on U.S. soil. While publications have praised the 2.2-liter diesel powertrain abroad, Mazda is not taking anything for granted with its U.S. debut. For that, the automaker should be commended, we suppose.
3. Tesla Model X
An all-electric utility vehicle with sports car performance? Yes, auto consumers are certainly ready for the Tesla Model X, the sooner the better. No one seems all that concerned about the cost of such an automobile, either. At least 20,000 people had put in reservations on the Model X back in 2014.
Originally slated for a 2013 release, the date was pushed back to the following year. That is, until the projected release date was again postponed until 2015 in February 2014. The Fremont, California-based EV juggernaut cited problems in the execution, with chief executive Elon Musk noting it was much harder to bring an electric SUV to production than it was a sedan. These problems persisted into 2015, but we finally have a promise it will arrive in “the third quarter.” Keep your fingers crossed.
It may look strange and have a name that recalls frozen pizza, but the Elio three-wheel car delivers on the economy front unlike any other. To wit, 84 miles per gallon at a price tag of $6,800 is impossible to beat. Based in Phoenix with a factory in Shreveport, Louisiana, Elio Motors had to postpone production of its efficient little car from March 2015 to September 2015 when financing fell through.
Further delays have pushed the date to mid-2016, which will keep the 41,000 people who have money down on the Elio as of April 2015 waiting a bit longer. Whether the new prototype that appeared at CES in 2015 will be the one remains to be seen.
5. Toyota Supra
On a recent sunny afternoon in Manhattan, a beautifully maintained Toyota Supra Mark III turned heads on a street filled with new models by Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Porsche, and Lamborghini. The Supra hasn’t lost one bit of its mojo over the years, as seemingly every auto publication includes it on its “most missed” or “all-time favorite” cars lists (or writes a monthly feature about the car’s sad disappearance).
Toyota has hinted numerous times that the Supra would make a revival, but until the car was registered back in the trademark office and got a new powertrain (twin-turbo engine and three electric motors), the car’s legion of devoted fans were skeptical. Since then, we’ve learned the Supra (if indeed it is given that hallowed name) will not be hybrid-powered and instead pack a BMW turbo engine. The Toyota FT-1 may point the way in terms of exterior design, but the waiting game has again begun.
6. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Mitsubishi dealers have been asking when they could get their hands on the Outlander plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) model, but delays have been the name of the game in the U.S. Originally slotted for a 2013 debut, the Outlander plug-in next got a release date set for November 2015. After yet another delay, we know U.S. consumers will see this plug-in by mid-2016.
By then, the vehicle will be different from the one that’s a hot item abroad. The Outlander plug-in will have a different exterior and superior hybrid system. (Mitsubishi showcased possibilities at a 2014 Paris Motor Show appearance.) Current overseas models feature 35 miles of electric range and four-wheel-drive capability. This vehicle is now the best-selling EV in England and was the second-best selling plug-in in Europe in 2014.
7. Detroit Electric SP:01
So the Detroit Electric SP:01 roadster is set for production in the Netherlands and has few American components. What does that have to do with the Motor City? Nothing, really, but this 210-kW beast had green performance car enthusiasts chomping at the bit when it debuted in 2013. Word was production would begin in 2014. Then came news Detroit Electric would make Sp:01 overseas and not get started until 2015. For an electric vehicle capable of going zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds, people were willing to wait. In fact, the configurator is already up on the company’s website, so we smell production in the air.
8. Scion FR-S Convertible
This one seemed simple enough. Take the sporty Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ that been around for a couple of years now and unveil the convertible model that’s been in the pipeline for nearly as many moons. It showed up in Geneva in 2013, was taken off the table soon after, then came back on the horizon in May 2014. Reports had it slated for production in late 2014, though that date came and went. In January 2015, we heard the convertible for this generation was officially dead (though maybe it would come as part of a next-gen Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ?). Don’t hold your breath.
9. Lotus Esprit
The Lotus Esprit had a long life as a celebrated sports car, complete with a submarine version that appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me. Daniel Craig’s 007 hasn’t had a chance to go underwater or above ground with a new model since the Esprit went out of production in 2004.
That history appeared ready to turn in 2010, when a revived Lotus showed up in Paris with an exquisite new version of the Esprit expected to hit production by 2014. Five years and one CEO later, it is becoming apparent the Esprit supercar is not making it to production after all. You’ll have to settle for one of the other Lotus supercars.
10. The next Cadillac legend
At least twice in recent Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance showcases, Clint Eastwood and other luminaries poked their heads inside exquisite Cadillac concept cars. Whether it’s the stunning Ciel that could stop traffic or the Elmiraj that would dominate West Coast highways, Cadillac’s concepts looked ready to usher in a new era of performance and luxury for a brand that should master both. Nonetheless, rumors are all anyone has to go on with respect to production of the next legendary Caddie.
Like the Ciel concept that never made it to an assembly line, the Cadillac Elmiraj and its elegant muscle are not going to make it to the road. Though we didn’t hear it spoken at the time, it was clear the CT6 that appeared in New York was not on this level. Never fear, says Cadillac. According to a report in Automobile, the flagship Cadillac that will revive the brand shall bear the name CT8 and will appear by 2019. Considering the decades we’ve already waited, that time frame doesn’t seem so bad.
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