Since an actual minivan is far more interesting than any “Smart Pod,” we’ll start with the GL8 Flagship Concept. The exterior is meant to be luxurious and “dynamic” looking with its mix of colors, glass canopy roof, wing-shaped headlights and highly-sculpted body. There’s hardly a piece on the car that isn’t making a statement, and the highlights continue when you open the doors.
It becomes fairly clear right away that this minivan is not one for family use, as it’s only rocking four seats. That said, everybody in those four seats is guaranteed to be comfortable. Buick says it’s using “zero gravity” lounge seats inside, and the cabin as a whole is inspired by Chinese mountain and water landscapes. That could explain the multi-color floor, as the blue section looks like it could be the water at the base of a mountain, surrounded by a beach.
Features include a tea tray, 30-inch driver display, touchscreen on the steering wheel, full windshield-width head-up display and a new audio system that features speakers in the headrests. Buick says all of the car’s functions can be controlled by voice, too. Beyond the obviously futuristic touches, this Buick minivan is just plain gorgeous. Its gold, blue and cream color combo and various materials used throughout look like top-notch luxury. We’d love to see some of this attention to detail and luxury trickle down into some of Buick’s production cars.
Smart Pod Concept
Unlike the GL8, the Smart Pod was designed in the U.S. It uses the electric Ultium platform and what Buick is calling the VIP electric architecture. The exterior design is basically what Buick has called it, a pod. Its lights use micro-LED tech to make them as sleek as possible.
On the inside, Buick designed the Pod to be as spacious and airy as can be. It has a glass roof, fully reclining and dedicated sleep seat and a modular seating layout. Other features include deployable tables, noise-cancellation tech, an air purifying system and a 50-inch LED screen. It is powered by an AI assistant that employs voice commands, eye-tracking technology, integration with your mobile devices and machine learning to adapt to the user. Buick says you could use it as a remote office if you so choose.
We’re a long way off from fully autonomous pods, though, so go ahead and put this one in the “future” category of things to worry about.