Every year the Los Angeles Auto Show hosts a challenge that asks design studios to create a specific concept. This year's challenge is to design a 1000 lb, four-passenger vehicle that is both comfortable and safe, while delivering satisfactory performance without sacrificing styling. The entries range from vehicles made from organic materials and powered by compressed air, to futuristic models relying on high-tech advancements.
Judging criteria is based on not only meeting the weight constraint (1500 lb maximum with occupants), but also for the artistic beauty, comfort, uniqueness, roadworthiness, sustainability, performance and user-friendliness of the vehicle. Entries will be judged by Tom Matano, director of Industrial Design at San Francisco's Academy of Art University; Imre Molnar, dean of Detroit's College for Creative Studies; Stewart Reed, chairman of Transportation Design, Pasadena's Art Center College of Design and Clive Hawkins, president of Aria Product Development. The winning design will be announced Nov. 18 during the Design Los Angeles Conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
2010 Design Challenge entries include:
General Motors Advanced Design California - The Cadillac Aera (Aero + Era) is a 1000 lb, 2+2 touring coupe with a range of 1000 miles utilizing alternative fuel. Aera's body structure utilizes a polyhedral, 3D lattice, mono-formed frame with a flexible pressurized polymer skin for body panels and glass, optimizing weight, aerodynamics and safety.
Honda Advanced Design Studio, Pasadena, CA - The Honda Air concept is a vision of the future of lightweight and alternative fuel performance vehicles. Inspired by the modern roller coaster, as well as skydiving suits, the Air is powered by a compressed air and pneumatic regulator system and weighs just under 800 lb.
Mercedes-Benz Research and Development Japan - The Maybach DRS "Den-Riki-Sha" (electric powered rickshaw) embodies the attributes of a radically new car culture in the near future. Powered by a self balancing electric drive unit and controlled by an onboard computer plugged into a mega city's transport infrastructure, the DRS delivers a smooth, luxurious journey cross town.
Mazda Design Americas - With each component in the MX-0 redesigned to carry out the functions of several MX-5 components, a multitude of parts have been replaced with fewer, simplified ones, using innovative lightweight materials.
Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America - The Mercedes-Benz Biome utilizes technologies from nature to achieve ultimate lightweight and seamless integration into the ecosystem. Grown in the ecologically sustainable Mercedes-Benz Nursery, each vehicle is grown from two seeds. One seed, the front star, grows the interior of the vehicle from Mercedes-Benz DNA, while the seed capsule creates the vehicles exterior. Both seeds grow together and are genetically engineered into customer's specifications.
Nissan Design America - The Nissan iV is a super-lightweight sports tourer that showcases "organic synthetics," a revolutionary and sustainable manufacturing technique in which automotive parts are cultivated like agriculture. Every detail of the Nissan iV is engineered toward renewable, lightweight strength. Derived from fast-growing ivy and re-enforced with spider silk composite, the biopolymer frame is flexible and ultra-light, yet extremely robust.
Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Germany - The Smart 454 is manufactured by incredibly high tech robots that look as friendly and cuddly as our grandmothers. The Tridion-frame chassis, knit creates complex shapes and forms out of carbon fiber, enabling the geometry to be optimized in strength and weight.
Volvo Car Corporation - Minimizing weight and complexity, while maximizing driving enjoyment, is the philosophy behind the Volvo Air Motion Concept. Thousands fewer components are employed than in a traditional car thanks to the powerful, yet simple, compressed air motors. The Volvo Air Motion demonstrates the beauty and purity of Scandinavian design and delivers a guilt free, raw driving experience.