A new futuristic concept car is designed to foster personal connection

The self-driving vehicle features a bubble-like dome that resembles the space car from The Jetsons.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of the AKXY2.
An artist's impression of the AKXY2.

Asahi Kasei / YouTube 

The Asahi Kasei AKXY2 concept car is designed to envision a future of sustainable and community-focused transportation.

The Tokyo-based firm hopes its concept will light up imaginations and reposition the automobile as a social device rather than a soulless commuting machine.

It is showing off a number of innovations related to its concept vehicle at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the world's largest tech conference.

Asahi Kasei's "circular motif"

The AKXY2 made its showroom debut in Japan on May 25, 2022. Its unveiling marked Asahi Kasei's 100th anniversary. The new concept car features technologies that are catered towards reducing carbon emissions. These include sustainable textiles, engineering plastics, and elastomers.

On Asahi Kasei's website, Ryuhei Ishimaru, CEO of Fortmarei Corporation, the designer of AKXY, AKXY POD, and AKXY2, said the company adopted a "circular motif" to represent the cycle of nature and the harmony between humanity and the environment.

Aside from that, Ishimaru mentioned that "the AKXY2 toproll(trim) is equipped with a magnetic grid and wall slits, so that car travel will not disrupt the steady flow of people's life activities. The grid and slits enable users to attach various products, such as chairs and tables, to the floor and wall to personalize the interior space."

"A wood deck is [also] attached to the exterior of the toproll(trim)," he continued, "with benches attached to the front and rear of the vehicle, while the canopy can open vertically, enabling various uses both inside and out, 360 degrees."

The society-centric AKXY2

Asahi Kasei, meanwhile, explains that the concept car was designed to fit within its "three Ss" theme, which refers to "Sustainability," "Satisfaction," and "Society." While the meaning behind the first two Ss is fairly self-explanatory, "Society" is the core concept of the AKXY2, and it refers to the Japanese company's ambition to represent "a future vision of automobiles from the perspective of their relationship with society."

The company said it decided to focus on a society-focused vehicle after the Covid pandemic highlighted the importance of vehicles as private, personal spaces during months of lockdown.

In order to realize the firm's vision, the entire upper half of the AKXY2, including the roof, is made of a transparent, glass-alternative resin, giving it a Jetsons spacecraft vibe. This means that passengers can peer outside in all directions, allowing them to enjoy the open space surrounding them. Asahi Kasei says the design will allow passengers to feel like they are on the "engawa" (Japanese for porch) of a traditional Japanese-style house.

So, ultimately the AKXY2 is a concept designed around personal connection. It's a fascinating, futuristic vision, but it's also one that likely won't see the light of day — in any other form than as a concept vehicle — for many years to come. The main barrier is the fact that it's a vehicle that would clearly rely on ultra-safe level 5 self-driving autonomy to allow passengers to lounge and take in the views without a care in the world.

It's a stunning example of what personal vehicles may look like in the future. Unfortunately, though, despite what Elon Musk may have said in the past, level 5 autonomy is likely still a long way off.

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