Being a hotbed of automotive design, Los Angeles often leads the way for future automotive trends. A few years ago, the L.A. Auto Show recognized that it was in a prime location to feature design concepts from some of the best names in the business. That year it initiated a forward-thinking design program called The Design Challenge. Now in its third year, the Challenge isn't so much about showing off next year's models as it is about giving designers free rein to think outside the box and tackle larger issues of the interaction between cars, people and the planet.

Environmental Sustainability is the theme of this year's Challenge, which features nine entries from Acura, Audi, Honda, Hummer, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Toyota and Volkswagen. The concept photo at right is the Mercedes-Benz entry, dubbed the RECY. "Wood, alloys, glass and rubber combine to create a 100-percent recyclable California roadster of the future. It's a fast, fun Mercedes-Benz for the ecologically minded consumer who demands a smart, elegant alternative to the traditional roadster," according to the release.

The Design Challenge entries will be revealed in early October when media packs and CD-ROMs featuring the vehicles are released. A blue ribbon judging panel will review the concept artwork and the winner will be announced on November 30 at the L.A. Auto Show. The 2007 L.A. Auto Show is actually the second for Los Angeles in less than 12 months as the show has moved from its traditional dates in January that had it facing heavy competition with the NAIAS in Detroit.

[Source: L.A. Auto Show]