MORE AT POPULAR MECHANICS
Car companies succeed, more or less, at one thing: creating automobiles. But that doesn’t stop them from chasing brand extension. Whether flexing design muscle or chasing another way to cash in, automakers release products that no one really asks for: redesigned bikes, furniture, iPhone cases, and even boats.
Audi R18 Ultra Chair
The Audi R18 Ultra Chair was inspired by Audi’s successful Le Mans prototype of the same name. While it lacks wheels and thus has a top speed of 0, this is an admittedly impressive piece of lightweight auto engineering. Design duo Clemens Weisshar and Reed Kram fashioned the chair from the same carbon fiber composites and sheet aluminum found on the R18 ultra racer. The pair then collected load data from more than 1500 "testers" at the Milan Furniture Fair in April (yes, furniture builders collect "load data"). Using that massive amount of information about sitting down, the designers teamed up with Audi’s Lightweight Construction Center and altered the chair’s geometry and carbon fiber weave bias to shave off another two pounds of weight. The final version of the chair, now on display at Design Miami/, weighs in at just under 5 pounds. (For reference, Ikea’s minimalist steel-and-plastic Jeff folding chair tips the scales at 6 pounds.)
Ferrari Golf Collection Driver
Released in August, this driver slathered in prancing ponies and Ferrari rosso was a collaboration between the Italian automaker and Cobra Golf. The club is based on Cobra’s top-of-the-line ZL Encore; while Ferrari engineers reportedly tinerked with the aerodynamics. It’s endorsed by Ian Poulter. If you’re looking to boost the horsepower of your golf game even more, Ferrari offers branded shirts, shoes, gloves, and golf bags—but sadly, no golf cart version of the 458 Italia.
Audi Doggie Golf Shirt
Perhaps your pup is no good with a putter. That doesn’t mean he can’t look the part. Audi’s line of pet products includes this golf shirt for dogs featuring the four rings, allowing you to use your canine as a further piece of testimony to your Audi fandom. We’re a little dubious of the dressing-up-dogs trend, but we certainly wouldn’t say no to the Audi R8 USB drive.
As preposterous as it sounds, Jaguar’s Concept Speedboat looks stunning. Jag unvieled it at the end of October to get consumers thinking about the various applications of Jaguar’s XF Sportbrake wagon (like towing your speedboat to the local boat launch). No word on whether you can buy a Jag-branded trailer hitch.
Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows Motor Yacht
If Jag’s speedboat concept had us seriously pondering the possibilities of luxury-carmaker-produced boats, Mercedes-Benz’s collaboration with Silver Arrows Marine gives us pause. Merc is being coy with the details of it’s 46-foot yacht, which purposefully looks nothing like any traditional ocean-going vessel. But we’ll be honest: While the futuristic styling is pretty cool, this looks like the kind of malevolent machine that would ruin James May’s day.
Billed as a "high-end sports machine," Audi’s e-bike is basically a trials bicycle with a 3-hp electric motor. It looks cool, and who wouldn’t want to ride a bike with a "Power Wheelie" mode? Unfortunately, the Audi suffers from some of the same problems as all electric bikes, which is that it’s hard to pin exactly who needs or wants something that’s not quite a bicycle but not quite a motorcycle. Plus, this one is heavy: Despite the bike’s carbon fiber reinforced polymer construction, it still weighs more than 24 pounds excluding the battery and motor (most modern carbon fiber road bikes usually stay under 20 pounds). And it’s also a single speed. Hope you don’t live on a hill.
Isaac Mizrahi Chevy Malibu-Inspired Fashion Collection
Famed women’s fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi reportedly drew inspiration from the 2013 Chevy Malibu, as well as "women across the country that embody the persona of the new car," for a limited release fashion collection. Essentially, it’s a marketing campaign aimed to grab the attention of GM’s target market of the Chevy Malibu: Women.
Mercedes-Benz Furniture Collection
Sure, your couch may be comfy, but does your current living room "reflect the progressive, dynamic design idiom of our current show cars and concept vehicles, offering an exclusive, emotional experience outside our vehicles," as Benz design head Gorden Wagener says in a release? If you’re looking to pay a pretty penny for the sake of a chair with an "unmistakable automotive identity," look no further. Or, just pull the bench out of your old pickup truck and move it into the living room.
BMC impec Lamborghini Edition
It’s not uncommon for automakers to put their name on bicycles. Take this GMC Denali-branded road bike. But if you wanted to pay much, much more than that for a bike, there’s always this one. Lamborghini paired up with Swiss bikemaker BMC to release a Lamborghini-branded version of the high-end impec carbon fiber road bike. Aside from its drop-dead gorgeous looks with matte black paint and hypercar-orange accents, there’s not much different between the ordinary impec and the Lambo edition, besides the price. If you managed to snatch one of the 30 produced, it’d set you back $26,000—almost $10,000 more than a similarly equipped non-branded impec. We’re sure some Lambo owner somewhere wouldn’t bat an eye at paying so much for a bicycle. The saddest part is thinking of this machine sitting in a garage collecting dust while he’s out tearing up the tarmac in an Aventador.
Nissan iPhone Case
Okay, so the press release announcing this product is a thinly-veiled attempt to extoll the virtues of Nissan’s self-healing paint finish through the medium of the iPhone case. Which is fine, and perhaps even useful, because the Nissan case could offer something in the way of smartphone protection. You drop the case, it scratches, and then the paint reportedly heals the scratch. The Nissan branding may be hokey, and we’re not really sure why the Juke logo is on there, but it’s a cool little piece of technology wrapped up in an otherwise mundane product. Thanks, Nissan.