click above to see more of the 2025 racers

The indie rock band The Flaming Lips has a compilation album called Finally the Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid, and if ever there was a collection of automotive concept car designers about which we could say the same thing, it's the folks who designed the race cars in the 5th Annual LA Auto Show Design Challenge.

Part Speed Racer, part podracers, part just crazy and at least a little eco-minded, these cars (if you can call them that) would make me want to watch racing in 2025, the year the designers were trying to imagine. I mean, look at the wheels on the Mitsubishi's MMR25 (above). The idea is that this vehicle could be driven forward no matter what direction it's pointing. The full line-up includes:

The all-electric MAZDA KAAN, the energy-generating GM Chaparral Volt, the hyperaerodynamic Audi R25, the BMW Hydrogen Powered Salt Flat Racer, Honda's The Great Race 2025, Mitsubishi's MMR25, Mercedes-Benz's Formula Zero Racer, the hydrogen-powered Toyota Le Mans Racer "that never needs to stop," and VW's Bio Runner.

There is more information on each racer after the jump, and we'll find out which concept wins the Design Challenge when we get to LA in a few week's time. For now, I've put all 64 images of these fanciful concepts in the gallery below, but if you want to see a vehicle in particular, click on the linked name above. Enjoy, and whew.


[Source: LA Auto Show]

PRESS RELEASE:

AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN STUDIOS VISUALIZE AUTO RACING IN THE YEAR 2025

Design Studios Compete in the 5th Annual LA Auto Show Design Challenge

LOS ANGELES – Oct. 20, 2008 – Today's race cars have ground-breaking technology to improve speed, power, performance and safety but what a difference 17 years into the future can make. Imagine race cars that go beyond the expectations and challenges of racing today, such as never needing to stop for re-fueling or collision avoidance assistance technology for enhanced safety.

Nine of Southern California's automotive design studios did just that, predicting how auto racing will change by the year 2025. The designs are part of the fifth annual Los Angeles Auto Show's Design Challenge, where studios including Audi, BMW, GM, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Volkswagen are pitted against each other to showcase their talents and further explore new ideas in automotive design.

"Automotive designers have always been fascinated with Motor Sports and this year's Design Challenge has provided them with the opportunity to use their creative talent to look at these cars with new eyes, using innovative technologies and approaches," said Chuck Pelly, director of Design Los Angeles and partner in The Design Academy, Inc. "This adds to the excitement, interest and personal involvement in the sport that has thrilled people of all ages for many years...and many more years to come."

Entries in this year's Motor Sports 2025 Design Challenge include:

• Audi of America Design Center California: The Audi R25 incorporates innovative features such as high-velocity banks and tunnels, which allow cars to race "inverted" and the opportunity to pass anywhere with aerodynamic racecars.

• BMW Group DesignworksUSA: The BMW Hydrogen Powered Salt Flat Racer reuses existing, ordinary and mundane materials such as old oil barrels and BBQ lids to whimsical and sustainable by employing goldfish as "co-pilots" to ensure that the vehicle is running clean emissions.

• General Motors Advanced Design: The GM Chaparral Volt collects and generates its own energy from three different clean, renewable and abundant California resources: Earth, Wind and Fire to create an entirely new category of racing - the eco-triathlon.

• Honda Research and Development, North America: The Great Race 2025's sonar/echolocation sensors are able to detect changes in speed, terrain, and altitude, allowing it to switch to any configuration to circumnavigate the globe in 24 hours on land through the U.S., by sea through Asia and by air over Europe.

• Mazda R&D of North America: The MAZDA KAAN is an electric race car that has a patented electronic tire system to reach 250 mph with no harmful emissions. The vehicles are piloted by individual drivers but teams are made up of thirty cars, all on the track together.

• Mitsubishi Research & Design of North America: The MMR25's multi-terrain, omnidirectional wheels consist of eight independently-controlled motors, allowing for "8 x 4" wheel drive so that the car can be driven forward while pointing in any direction.

• Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America: Luxury racing arrives in the Formula Zero Racer by incorporating the thrill of Formula One, the track dynamics of the bobsled or luge, and the grace and efficiency of yacht racing.

• Toyota's Calty Design Research: The Toyota Le Mans Racer is the ultimate race car that never needs to stop. Powered by highly efficient hydrogen fuel cell electric motors, each of its body panels is embedded with photovoltaic panels to supply electricity when extra energy is needed.

• Volkswagen of America Design Center: In the Bio Runner, the rider is positioned inside a protective cage on a motorcycle-like saddle with controls attached to the hands and feet. These controls manipulate all wheels via synthetic muscle-based suspension which offers unparalleled control and traction.

Entries will be judged by Tom Matano of San Francisco's Academy of Art University, Imre Molner of Detroit's College for Creative Studies and Stewart Reed of Pasadena's Art Center College of Design. Daniel Simon, an established car designer and founder of Cosmic Motors, is the special guest judge this year. Simon began his design career at Volkswagen and recently published his first book: Cosmic Motors-Spaceships, Cars and Pilots of Another Galaxy.

The winning design will be announced at the Design Los Angeles conference Nov. 20 at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

About the Design Challenge
The Design Challenge is part of the Design Los Angeles automobile designers' conference that has evolved into an integral element of the Los Angeles Auto Show. Entering its fifth year, Design Los Angeles provides designers with leading design speakers and the opportunity to address common issues. More than 500 designers attended last year's event.


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