Los Angeles Design Show Unveils Green Cars of the Future
Kia Sandstorm (click to enlarge)Designers on the road to the future in this year’s rendition of the Design Challenge, a shoot-out of car concepts submitted by local satellite design studios at the Los Angeles auto show, includes visions of a green Hummer — just as the Governator has promised — a wooden Mercedes and self-fabricating Volkswagens. The contest mandate focuses on green cars — not just zero-emission ones but fully recyclable vehicles. As befits the home of the film industry, the nine entries are not real cars but exist only as glittering digital images.
The studios took on the challenge with varying degrees of intensity and seriousness. BMW DesignWorks handed the task of creating a Mini entry to an intern designer, Gary Shiu. The Hummer 02 is credited to five designers at the General Motors West Coast Advanced Design Studio, including its chief, Frank Saucedo.
The Hummer 02 is built of panels containing living algae that theoretically produce more oxygen than its engine consumes. They unfold when the vehicle is parked and look like solar panels on a Mars lander. The Mercedes-Benz entry, the Recy, puts wooden wheel covers on a body inspired by Riva yachts. The Mini BioMoke is made of biodegradable panels impregnated with palm tree seeds, compostable after a five-year life cycle.
To offset the resources consumed in designing its Dynamic Space Frame entry, Audi purchased wind power from Renewable Energy Choice and planted trees through Trees for the Future’s Global Cooling Program. The Volkswagen Nanospyder is to be manufactured by “submolecular assemblers” who create objects from the atom up. Kia has taken the assignment with a bit of humor. It aims the Sandstorm, a dune buggy with a biodiesel plug-in hybrid, at beach bums and “ecofashionistas.”
Toyotas’ R.L.V., or renewable lifestyle vehicle, alternates between pedal drive and electric drive, saving on gym membership fees by turning the commute to work into an exercise session. Honda’s Extreme is a life-stage vehicle designed for easy alteration of its body to keep up with the changing biography of its owner.
These technologies are part fun, part silly, but all proof of the power of the dream of the “green Hummer”— the rolling embodiment of guilt-free gluttony. The hobo’s song was born of an empty stomach. The car designers’ dreams are born of a car culture running on empty, hungering for new ideas to let Angelenos (and the rest of us) keep pursuing our love affair with the automobile.
The winner will be announced at the show on Nov. 30. The concepts are online at laautoshow.com.
[Read the New York Times article here.]