Torino’s Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) has unveiled the Moonstone, a zero-emission crossover SUV concept in partnership with Mitsubishi Motors that was actually the brainchild of 17 IED students.
The all-wheel drive Moonstone EV was one of 17 projects submitted to Mitsubishi as part of an automotive design contest to find “future routes with great attention and respect for the environment.” The no-not-a-gemstone concept was subsequently among three short-listed finalists before being chosen for a full-scale build.
As the name heavily infers, the futuristic concept, designed and built at the IED’s Master Transportation Department, was inspired heavily by space travel and moon exploration (think Lunar Roving Vehicles), and with the idea of pushing the boundaries of human capability in mind. A little on the nose perhaps, but, yes, admirable nonetheless.
The chances of the ‘Moonstone’ reaching any form of production – limited or otherwise – is close to nill (don’t let that ‘March 28, 2035’ tagline fool you). Still, to see news of an all-electric Mitsubishi of any sort is pretty rare, given that the Japanese marque currently has no fully-electric vehicles on sale in North America as it continues its development of plug-in hybrid technology with the Outlander PHEV.
On top of that, the ambitiously-named “Mitsubishi crossover of tomorrow” does feature some neat design touches. Standing just over 15 feet long, 6.5 feet wide and 5.5 feet wide (with a near 9-foot wheelbase beneath all that), the Moonstone boasts incredibly sleek bodylines to maximize aerodynamics, as well as other tell-tale EV design cue, such as the closed-off front grille, the concave ‘funneling’ flanks, the microscopic wing mirrors, and a whopping great hood to improve air flow.
Cleverly, though the 17-strong group – which, interestingly, is credited as “an international group of 18” in the official release video, presumably including an over-seeing professor – was behind the overall design, it has also includes nods to traditional Mitsubishi design element, such as the ‘T’-shape taillights, high ground clearance, and short(ish) overhangs. Even the two-door layout draws parallels with Mitsubishi’s Pajero workhorse.
A rather futuristic cabin design includes a pseudo-yoke-cum steering wheel and three pedals, but is incredibly minimalistic, save three-driver oriented switches on the centre console. There’s also no A-pillars to speak of, the continuous glass surface between windows and windshield offering enormous front-and-side visibility, a nod perhaps to the “human-centred design” at the vehicle’s core.
Unsurprisingly, no details have been provided re a demonstration EV drivetrain, though IED itself claims the Moonstone is also “geared towards performance,” even with the drive-by-way technology. There’s also a very Volvo EX90-esque LiDAR system mounted to the hood, because you never know what obstacles await you in zero-gravity, 384,400 kilometres from Earth.
Though planning and development of the Moonstone concept has taken the best part of a year, the timing of the unveil is particularly apt given NASA’s recent announcement of the four astronauts that will pilot Artemis II to the moon towards the end of next year.