It wasn't the number one pick of our readers (earning the silver medal in your voting), but Mazda managed to take the top honors at the LA Design Challenge with its KAAN concept. The design itself is a fanciful look into a future where all the roads in California are paved with... um, sub-level electro-conductive polymer (m'kay), which provides juice to the electronic tires that allow the KAAN to reach speeds of up to 250 mph. Up to 30 KAANs would travel together in formations that would cheat the wind, so MAZDA designed the vehicles so that they could fit tightly together in the peloton.
The theme of the competition was to depict what motorsports would be like in 2025. Chuck Pelly, director of Design Los Angeles, said that the choice was made because Mazda's entry was "the most innovative and artistic design," and that the KAAN "ultimately brought unique styling back to motorsports." Unique? That seems like a major understatement to us. See all of the contenders after the break
[Source: LA Auto Show]
Audi introduces the R25, the latest prototype in its legendary racecar lineup.
The inaugural Los Angeles round of the ALMS 2025 incorporates innovative features never previously seen in any form of motor sports, such as high-velocity banks and tunnels, which allow cars to race "inverted" and the opportunity to pass anywhere with aerodynamic racecars. All top sections of the tunnels and banks are also WiTricity wireless electrical charging zones, which encourage the drivers to utilize these free energy zones instead of fuel stops.
The R25 is designed to utilize and excel in this new racing environment, with features such as:
- The new Dynamic Space Frame, allowing much greater degree of flexibility, integration of circuits and rigidity
- Algae bio fuel for endurance and electric motor capability through Wireless power transfer technology
- Audi Design: Staying true to the "Form is Function" philosophy, there is not an ounce of needless element in the R25, which incorporates advanced technique and efficient form management into one. The car also uses: active micro-control surfaces which optimize airflow during the race; Man Machine Interface, which inputs all vehicle data output into the driver's helmet visor; all-around vehicle dynamic sensors and integrated on-board HD cameras with real-time data links to allow for spectator interaction, allowing fans to virtually "sit" and experience the race in any racecar through monitors and virtual reality booths.
Gallery: 2008 LA Design Challenge: Audi R25
BMW Hydrogen Powered Salt Flat Racer
"Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations." -Jean Paul Richter
BMW has designed a hydrogen powered salt flat racer based on the premise of Reuse (instead of recycle). This concept utilizes existing, ordinary, and mundane materials, such as old oil barrels and barbeque lids, as main components for the body and wheel discs. Friendly, whimsical and sustainable, the concept employs goldfish as "co-pilots" or "canaries-in-a-coal mine" to ensure that the vehicle is running clean emissions (if your fish get sick, you must be running "rich"). The wheels are gel-nylon for necessary flex, allowing tires to be airless and re-vulcanized or re-treaded.
GM Chaparral Volt
Designed for the 2025 revival of the LA Times Grand Prix, the Chaparral Volt uses advanced EREV propulsion, energy collection, generation and management system to create an entirely new category of racing - the eco-triathlon.
The Chaparral Volt collects and generates its own energy from three different clean, renewable and abundant California resources: Earth, Wind and Fire.
Earth (Geologic) Gravity and momentum-capture regeneration and aero-thermal resistance provide astounding levels of braking efficiency in addition to active energy regeneration.
Wind (Aero-Thermal) Building on the legendary Chaparral 2J, the Volt utilizes rear turbine extractors for power cell cooling, down force and (in reversed direction) a combination of aero-assist braking and energy regeneration.
Fire (Radiant Sunlight) Integrated thin-film PV panels for the racer's body and team support unit takes advantage of Southern California's most abundant resource, the sun, and converts it for use as the Chaparral Volt's primary energy source.
Honda The Great Race 2025
In 1908, 17 men dared to take on the "toughest race ever devised." Spanning six months, the Great Race brought these men over 22,000 miles, through three continents and around the world. 117 years later, the Great Race of 2025 is tougher than ever.
Competitors must circumnavigate the globe in 24 hours on land through the United States, by sea through Asia and by air over Europe.
The vehicle's sonar/echolocation sensors are able to detect changes in speed, terrain, and altitude, allowing it to switch to any configuration. With expertise in automotive, marine, robotics, and jet technologies already in place, Honda possesses a distinct, competitive advantage over its rivals, allowing it to lead in the evolution of motorsports in the 21st century.
The MAZDA KAAN is an electric race car designed to compete in the E1 races, the pinnacle of international motorsports in terms of technology and popularity. In 2025, California freeways have been resurfaced with a sub-level electro-conductive polymer that powers the electric cars of the modern world. MAZDA's patented electronic tire system uses this technology to power the KAAN 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. Using strategies similar to those in cycling peletons, the tighter the group sticks together, the more aerodynamic and powerful it becomes.
Inspiration for the KAAN comes from electric fields and textures seen in nature, particularly those in a lightning bolt. The car is uniquely designed around its powerful electric wheels while the cockpit acts as a capsule to safely house the driver, allowing for tighter peloton formations and a team victory.
Gallery: 2008 LA Design Challenge: Mazda Kaan
Mitsubishi breaks from convention and introduces the MMR25.
While the look is shocking, the 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. The MMR25 drives sideways into a corner and points the nose of the car outwards before even reaching the apex of the curve while driving sideways or backwards.
The MMR25 also uses special Oblique Aerodynamics to give the vehicle aero advantages. The center wing acts as a spoiler, actuated by pneumatic and fabricated from Memory Metal Alloy while the front and rear spoilers double as suspension blades which are able to control stiffness and ride height.
Mercedes-Benz Formula Zero
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.
Reminiscent of the Mercedes Benz racing heritage of the 1930's, the Formula Zero Racer is loaded with technology designed to extract the maximum thrust from the electric hub motors, aero-efficient solar skin and high-tech rigid sail.
Each team is allocated the same amount of stored energy and it is left to the teams and drivers to manage the variables to win the race. The winner is determined by total elapsed time combined with the energy efficiency factor.
Spectators at the Mercedes Benz Formula Zero racing Series are treated to a new dimension of racing as the transparent track is visible from all perspectives - even from below!
Toyota Lemans Racer
Technological superiority and endurance creates the ultimate race car that never needs to stop. Not only is the racer powered by highly efficient hydrogen fuel cell electric motors, each of its body panels is embedded with photovoltaic panels that supply electricity when extra energy is needed.
The vehicle features two basic modes: High Speed Mode and Cornering Mode. In High Speed Mode, the body and wheels narrow, creating less drag and resistance to reach its highest speed of 350 mph. The Cornering Mode transforms the body to create a wide and stable stance with expanded wheels, establishing maximum contact and grip through tight turns.
To aid the driver in darkness or unreliable weather, the cockpit is a completely digital environment with a display enhanced by virtual reality, computer trajectory plotting, collision avoidance assistance and a robot co-pilot, which manages the on-board systems and repairs so that it can maintain full speed all the way to the finish.
Volkswagen Bio Runner
The Baja 1000 now introduces the "One Tank Unlimited Solo Class." The only stipulations are one driver and one 10-gallon tank of fuel, forcing competitors to use every bit of technology, strategy, and wit to finish.
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.
Much like a motorcycle this system allows the rider to lean into turns as well as shift the center of gravity by changing the position of the wheels in relation to the cab. This system offers an unparalleled degree of control and traction which ultimately results in much higher speed runs.
The vehicle is powered by dual-turbine engines that run at an ultra-efficient 500,000 rpm and operate on a patented bio-synthetic jet fuel.
The vehicle also boasts an Arial Reconnaissance Drone (AR-D) which feeds video to the driver when visibility is limited.
The Support Team Chopper transports, follows and in the event of a crash, swoops down to perform repairs. It also contains telemetry analysis software, which in the case of emergency, takes over piloting to avoid danger unseen by the driver.