The Los Angeles Auto Show is not just about showcasing new vehicles and concept vehicles. It is also the place where automakers' design studios competed to create the best design of vehicles of the future. Fifteen designs studios entered the competition with futuristic cars.
The competition is about designing vehicles which will be attractive to car buyers 50 years from now hence the competition being called "Design Challenge: Robocar 2057". Designers should be able to explain why their designs would be popular fifty years down the road.
Last year's winner of the competition is the Hummer O2. The said futuristic vehicle won the competition centered on eco-friendly automotive technology. The Hummer O2 design is powered by fuel cell and has the capability to purify the air around it. Algae-filled body panels of the futuristic vehicle transform carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen. Apart from that, the O2 is also made from 100 percent recycled materials.
This year's winner is the Volkswagen Concept Slipstream. Said vehicle is basically a pod fit for a single person. On city streets, it travels in an upright position to occupy less space than vehicles of today. On special highways, the pod will travel horizontally at speeds reaching 250 miles per hour. The Slipstream is the brainchild of designers at Volkswagen/Audi Design Center in Santa Monica, California.
Another vehicle which deserves recognition is the Mercedes-Benz Silver Flow. According to Marty Bernstein writing for The Auto Channel: "Designers of the Silver Flow envision a multi-dimensional vehicle composed of micro metallic particles that rearrange themselves to become a vehicle of a specific shape, literally by pressing a button on a magnetic assembler. The shape can be selected by the driver. Inspired by Mercedes-Benz racing vehicles from a bygone age this concept was created by the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America in Irvine, CA."
Japanese automaker Mazda put forth a radically-designed vehicle named the Motonari RX. Said vehicle is described by Bernstein saying: "Crumpled silver paper? No, the Motonari is made of a 100 percent, re-prototypable carbon fiber nano tube shape memory alloy weave with a photovoltaic coating (which, by the way, is yet to be invented). The interface between the driver and the vehicle is a driving suit made of millions of microscopic actuators, which enables the driver to experience the road psycho-somatically while making the driver and vehicle indistinguishable from each other. This sensational ride comes from Mazda R&D of North America in Irvine, CA."
While the design put forth by automakers at the Los Angeles Auto Show are futuristic, they are sure to have reliable parts like Bilstein shocks if ever they are mass produced.
About the Author
Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.