Mazda Souga Concept from LA Design Challenge 2009 - Click above for high-res image gallery

This year's iteration of the annual Design Challenge at the LA Auto Show asks the question: How will a new generation of drivers age 16-23, raised with cell phones, web cams and online communities, emotionally connect to the automobile in 2030? We don't know the answer either, but at least six designers from some of the world's top automakers decided to give it a go with their own ideas.

First up are the eSpira and eOra from Audi, which are controlled by thought and by the minutest adjustments to the pilot's body. Next we have the General Motors Car Hero... yes, the name is borrowed from the popular Guitar Hero line of games and the car, as you might imagine, "turns driving into gaming." What happens when the inevitable "Game Over" comes at the end? Moving along, we come to the Honda Helix, a shape-shifting vehicle that borrows actual DNA from its owner. Yuck, we don't want to be a car, we want to drive a car.

Which brings us to the Mazda Souga, easily our favorite out of this crop of concepts. Mazda's vision for the future would have each owner design his own car for the low price of $2,000 while paying an additional monthly usage fee that also covers the price of electricity to power the Souga.

Nissan's vision for the future includes cars that get their power from an electrically-charged roadway called the GRID, and the vowel-challenged V2G UNLMTD is quickly hacked into an OFF-GRID transportation device by the next breed of young hackers. Lastly, we have the Toyota Link. According to Toyota, future college students will have nearly no income and will rely on mass transit vehicles like the Link that allow them to interact via their various social networks on their daily commutes. Sounds boring to us, but what do we know?

Be sure to check out all six designs in the gallery below and let us know your favorites in the comments.


Related GalleryLA Design Challenge 2009 Competitors
Audi eOra/eSpiraAudi eOra/eSpiraAudi eOra/eSpiraAudi eOra/eSpiraAudi eOra/eSpiraAudi eOra/eSpiraGeneral Motors Car HeroGeneral Motors Car Hero

[Source: LA Design Challenge]


PRESS RELEASE

LOS ANGELES - Nov. 4, 2009 - As timeless as hanging out at the mall, automobiles have played an important role in young people's social lives, have acted as a means of self expression and more importantly a necessary tool for interacting with friends. Today, communication technology is changing how we connect and perhaps even the role the car plays in young people's lives.

Southern California design studios will envision what a new generation of drivers, raised with cell phones, online communities and webcams will demand from their vehicles in the year 2030.

The design studios for Audi, GM, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota reached 21 years into the future and designed their interpretation of Youthmobile 2030. Designs range from vehicles that incorporate human DNA allowing changes in the shape, color and materials to vehicles that link into a mass transit system where drivers not only share the commute but trade music and compare class schedules.

Entries will be judged by Tom Matano, Director of Industrial Design at San Francisco's Academy of Art University; Imre Molner, Dean of Detroit's College for Creative Studies; Stewart Reed, Chair, Transportation Design, Pasadena's Art Center College of Design and Jason Hill, Principal of Eleven, LLC and Designer of the Aptera electric and plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle.

"Automotive designers have always been fascinated with the next generation of drivers and this year's Design Challenge has provided them with the opportunity to use their creative talents to revisit the concept of 'the car' with new eyes, using the hottest technologies to both explore and fulfill the needs of young people," said Chuck Pelly, director of Design Los Angeles and partner in The Design Academy, Inc.


Entries in this year's Youthmobile 2030 Design Challenge include:

Volkswagen/Audi of America Design Center California - The Audi eOra and eSpira are an accessible representation of freedom and coming of age. Like a downhill skier, the eOra carves the roadscape with precision by constantly adapting to the driver's movements and intentions. Using next generation vehicle control logic, the eSpira takes even the smallest body movements and gestures of the driver into consideration and synchronizes them with the vehicle to result in unmatched agility and responsiveness.

General Motors Advanced Design - The Car Hero turns driving into gaming and challenges the driver's skills against the car's autonomous system. Once you enter your destination into the navi app on your smart phone, you can play against the vehicle to "win" complete control over the system and gain access to increasingly outrageous driving scenarios.

Honda Research and Development, North America
- Using insight gained from the human genome, the Honda Helix redefines individuality and how a driver connects to his or her vehicle over time. The Helix incorporates human DNA with adaptive polymers that allow changes in the car's shape, color and materials. Tri-axis movement allows adaptation and reaction to specific environments and traffic patterns.

Mazda R & D of North America - The Mazda Souga is the epitome of personal branding. Young entrepreneurs can create their own vehicles on VMazda, a virtual reality Web site that y Web suiteacts as a design playground. With the help of a virtual design mentor, each car is guaranteed to be affordable, eco-friendly and purely driver-focused.

Nissan Design America - The V2G is Nissan's eco-neutral commuter car for 2030. Its combination of dynamic styling and quality construction creates a top-of-the-line electric machine that can be modified to fit the needs and desires of its owner.

Toyota's Calty Design Research - The Toyota LINK is a customizable, mass transit vehicle for students that seamlessly links onto a transportation social network. "LINK SKINZ" can be downloaded to digitally transform the vehicle's shape into a personalized exterior design while "LINK SPHERES," wheels made of an electro-conductive material, convert friction into energy that recharges the batteries.

About the Design Challenge
The Design Challenge is part of the Design Los Angeles automobile designers' conference that is held every year during the Los Angeles Auto Show press days, Dec. 2 & 3, 2009. For the last six years a new Design Challenge theme is chosen and the major Southern California Automotive Design Studios battle against each other to showcase their talents and further explore new ideas in automotive design. The Design Los Angeles Conference also gives designers access to design industry leaders and provides the opportunity to address common industry issues
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