Participants in the annual LA Design Challenge always manage to come up with edgy, wacky designs for future vehicles, but with a theme of "Biomimicry and Mobility: 2025" this year's crop of cars might be the quirkiest we've ever seen. As usual, automotive designers from around the world participated in this year's competition, and all the designs will all be unveiled next week during the LA Auto Show with a winner being announced on November 21.

Chinese automakers made a strong showing with Qoros, SAIC Motor, JAC Motors and Changfeng all bringing interesting takes on the biology, human intelligence and sustainability theme. One of the more innovative ideas among these automakers is the Qoros Silk Road System allows autonomous vehicles to drive in packs similar to how ants travel. Speaking of ants, the SAIC Motor Mobiliant (shown above) gets its design from the shape of an ant's body, and, like the insect, it can climb building acting as a personal elevator as well. The JAC Motors design also merges vehicle and building design, while the Changfeng LaBrea inspired by the design of muscle fibers.

Other entrants include Subaru and US-based design teams for BMW, Toyota and Mazda. BMW's duo of concepts mimic plant and animal life. The LA Subways concept acts as a submersible, single-person vehicle to take advantage of the LA river, with a shape similar to an Ocean Sunfish. The Sustainable Efficient Exploratory Device (SEED) imitates the shape of a seed pod, and uses propulsion methods inspired by a shark, dragonfly and a water bug. Mazda's Auto Adapt might be the most car-like concept of the bunch, while the Subaru Suba-Roo and the Calty-designed, Toyota e-grus are the most mind-blowingly awesome.

Scroll down to check out all nine design studies, and then vote on your favorite in the poll below.

BMW Group DesignworksUSA L.A. Subways

BMW Group DesignworksUSA, USA – To solve LA's daily traffic congestion and decrease the environmental impact, BMW Group DesignworksUSA designers explore forgotten waterways as a commuting alternative with their vehicle concept, "L.A. Subways." Inspired by the efficiency of swarms and the unique power generating processes found within cells, BMW Group DesignworksUSA's design serves to answer the ever-growing challenges of mobility in Los Angeles.
BMW Group DesignworksUSA S.E.E.D. (Sustainable Efficient Exploratory Device)

BMW Group DesignworksUSA, USA – Inspired by biomimicry, the BMW "S.E.E.D (Sustainable Efficient Exploratory Device)" was created to explore the world's harshest environments in search for new life forms and inspiration. Using the maple seed as its main inspiration, this vehicle uses a multifunctional rotating tail and nature's elements such as solar energy, wind and gravity as its main sources of mobility.
Changfeng Motor Corporation LaBrea - Los Angeles Bio Research Project

Changfeng Motor Corporation, China – Using a hollow reed design in a spiral dynamic configuration, Changfeng has created "'LaBrea' – Los Angeles Bio Research Project," which utilizes a closed loop and semi rigid torsion reed network to distribute and manage maneuvering capabilities. The entire system resembles a grasshopper, capable of running, jumping, climbing, swimming and also the ability to squeeze between narrow openings. From holographic Emoji to update traffic patterns, to techno gel seat cushions that provide cooling and heating, the LaBrea mobility system adheres to the adage "Adapt or Die."
JAC Motors H.E.F.E.I. (Harmonious Eco-Friendly Efficient Infrastructure)

JAC Motors R & D Center, Japan – JAC Motors introduces "HEFEI" (Harmonious Eco-Friendly Efficient Infrastructure), a totally rethought mobility solution inspired by the self-sufficiency of the eco-system. This mobility network offers symbiosis between vehicles and their urban environment. Idle vehicles are used to power running vehicles; a power grid supports the entire system; and automated traffic regulates itself, decreasing accidents, traffic jams and energy loss.
Mazda Design Center Auto Adapt

Mazda Design Americas, USA – In reaction to the impending demise of the 2025 driver, Mazda has designed "AUTO ADAPT." Studying the biological phenomenon of adaptation and specifically how insects have adapted, Mazda has created a vehicle that has the ability to adapt from being fully autonomous to a manual machine. These vehicles are geared directly to those true drivers out there that long for the excitement found with driving an automobile; the excitement expected to be completely eliminated from the autonomous cars of 2025.
Qoros Auto Silk Road System

Qoros Auto, China – Acting as a control hub, the "Silk Road System" designed by Qoros will allow vehicles to operate harmoniously, actively eliminating accidents. Using the silk worm as its inspiration, Silk Road Vehicles and Silk Bots, in coordination with the overall system will serve to offer the drivers of Shanghai a fool-proof, sustainable and waste-free mobility system.
SAIC Motor Mobiliant

SAIC Motor, China – Inspired by a simple ant's distinctive body structure and the mutually beneficial relationship between ants and trumpet trees, SAIC Motors designed Roewe "Mobiliant." Mobiliant is a single-seat vehicle for urban public transit, which helps improve both transportation and operation efficiency for future urban ecological systems.
Subaru Global Design Team Suba-Roo

Subaru Global Design Team, Japan – The innovative, affordable and fun personal mobility vehicle from Subaru's designers was created to change the man-vehicle relationship in a revolutionary way. The "SUBA-ROO" is a one-legged, self-contained, wearable mobility vehicle with a propulsion method which mimics the efficient yet powerful jumping motions of a kangaroo. With the SUBA-ROO's all-road, go anywhere capability and Subaru's Eye-Sight safety system, the path to your destination is unlimited. On the road, a trail, a beach, or in a building, SUBA-ROO will widen the boundaries of mobility and bring back the joy of personally mobility for everyone to enjoy.
Toyota/Calty Design Research e-grus

CALTY Design Research, Toyota Design Network, USA – Designed as the ultimate electric hyper-commuter vehicle, the Toyota "e-grus" specializes in long distance travel and minimal footprint city driving. Inspired by the resilient crane, e-grus can be driven autonomously, positioned at a full extension aero profile for efficiency and high speed stability much like a crane in flight. The dual mode shifts through an active metal surface that sends electric currents for a pliable skin that hardens once positioned vertically or horizontally.
Show full PR text

A dozen studios from the US, Japan, Germany and China to participate in LA Auto Show's New Design Gallery at 2013 Show

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 11, 2013) – The Los Angeles Auto Show (LA Auto Show®) announced today that nine concepts were submitted by world-renowned auto design studios for this year's Design Challenge, themed "Biomimicry & Mobility 2025 – Nature's Answer to Human Challenges." Each competitor's mobility solution or system has been designed with nature's inspiration while increasing function and addressing a variety of transportation topics, such as congestion, pollution, safety and sustainability. With biological knowledge doubling every five years, the 10th Design Challenge pushes automotive designers to explore new instruments and knowledge like never before.

In addition to the nine competing studios, three additional studios are joining this year's Design Gallery to showcase their team's capabilities making for a total of 12 auto design studios from around the world participating in the Show. Studios participating in the Design Challenge represent the brands BMW, Changfeng, JAC Motors, Mazda, Qoros, SAIC Motor, Subaru and Toyota. Their entries for this year's Design Challenge propose mobility solutions inspired by natural creatures, structures and occurrences. From self-sustaining silk worms to long-forgotten waterways, the entries are sure to spark intense competition and careful deliberation at the LA Auto Show's 2013 Design Challenge. The three additional studios showcased in the Gallery include Hyundai Design and Research Center, Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center California and Nissan Design America.

Entries will be judged on various factors including creative adaptation of nature's laws (plants & animals); application of human intelligence to Biomimicry in unique ways to improve the efficiency of future vehicles; comfort, convenience, aesthetics of the vehicle; sustainability of the building, servicing, operation, and life cycle; and the personality of the vehicle in relationship to the brand.

Entries will be judged by Tom Matano, Executive Director, School of Industrial Design at San Francisco's Academy of Art University; Stewart Reed, Chair of Transportation Design at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design; John Manoogian, Adjunct Professor Auto Design Studio at the College for Creative Studies. This esteemed panel of judges will be joined by guest judge, Dr. Gabriel A. Miller, who currently serves as the Director of Research & Development at the Centre for Bioinspiration at San Diego Zoo Global, where he devotes his work to the implementation of nature's design and engineering solutions to advance humanity, wildlife, and habitats.

All entries will be presented and a winner will be selected during the Design Los Angeles Open House and Challenge Presentations on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The final competition concepts will be prominently displayed at the LA Auto Show in the newly created Design Gallery that makes design an integral part of the LA Auto Show. The brand new Design Gallery showcases the talent and imagination of key global auto studios throughout Press Days (Nov. 19, 20 and 21, 2013), as well as through the run of the public show (Nov. 22-Dec. 1, 2013).

The LA Auto Show Design Challenge is sponsored by Faurecia, the world's sixth-largest automotive supplier specializing in automotive seating, emissions control technologies, interior systems and auto exteriors. Other sponsors that make Design LA possible include Lacks Enterprises, Inc., Eastman, Dassault Systèmes, Autodesk, Bose and, alongside the 2013 Design Challenge media partner, Car Design News. The Design Challenge is organized by the LA Auto Show and the Design Los Angeles chairs, Joan Gregor and Chuck Pelly of The Design Academy.

Media registration for LA Auto Show and Connected Car Expo Press Days can be accessed here. General registration for CCE is also open at this time. For more information, please visit and

About the Los Angeles Auto Show and Connected Car Expo
Founded in 1907, the Los Angeles Auto Show is the first major North American auto show of the season each year. Press Days for the 2013 LA Auto Show® will be held on Nov. 20 and 21. The show will be open to the public Nov. 22 – Dec. 1. The Connected Car Expo (CCE) will be the first expo to unite automotive and technology professionals in an effort to increase development and foster relationship-building in the connected car industry, providing attendees with access to the key players and top media constructing the future of the connected car. CCE will debut on Nov. 19, and continue in conjunction with the 2013 LA Auto Show Press Days. The LA Auto Show is endorsed by the Greater L.A. New Car Dealer Association and is operated by ANSA Productions. To receive the latest show news and information, follow LA Auto Show on Twitter at or via Facebook at and sign up for alerts at For more information on CCE please visit

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is there a "None of the Above" option?
      Jaclock LaGlock
      • 1 Year Ago
      So, Toyota designed a high heel shoe on wheels?
      • 1 Year Ago
      hey who else is done with these contest? Nothing i cant see on deviant art. Nothing to do with concept or design to cars as it is a drawing style contest.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Reason was not invited to the party.
      Giorgio Taroni
      • 1 Year Ago
      voted for the suba-roo, just because I already thought of it, but I suggest 'em to do it with two feet to avoid kicks, again I'm into design, and despite the futuristic projects are excellent, the world has changed, we see easy-project only, it's no more possible to watch complex ones, we are tuff, we just need vehicles to move on simple city, made of bricks, poverty is spreading, no one wants big constructions anymore, students do simple things for old people, that's the right way, believe me, dream by watching a girl in the eyes under a sunny day at the beach, no other is needed today
      • 1 Year Ago
      Changfeng: it runs on unicorn farts, the color is entirely accidental - the frame of the vehicle is made of transparent aluminum which allows the iridescent compressed liquified fart gas to be visible.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow... LA Design Challenge got really interesting this year. Not by the project brief nor work produced by the studios, but by the participants themselves! The usual OEM design studios in California didn't even bother to participate this year - Hyundai, Mecedes-Banz, GM, Chrysler, Nissan, Kia, Volkswagen Group, Honda, and etc. In their place, slew of Chinese companies that do not even have a market presence in US are participating! What a brilliant move by Chinese companies to brand themselves and introduce themselves casually! participation of Chinese car companies that do not even sell cars in US!
      • 1 Year Ago
      I go for the SUBA-ROO!!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Suba-Roo for the competitions guidelines and potential for realization. Mazda for the win cuz $%^& autonomous cars!! But seriously, Mazda touched on passion and the spirit of driving - the others, not nearly as much.
      • 1 Year Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think the BMW S.E.E.D. is the best entry. Well thought out, designed well, good presentation. That's the winner IMO. The Subaru Suba-Roo looks like the most fun entry, and that ties in well with Subaru's overall brand image since Subaru is known to be the "fun" car company. The Chinese SAIC entry is surprisingly good looking but I don't see how it ties in with the brief. If it's explained in all those paragraphs, the type's too small I can't read it anyway. Plus cars going up buildings as elevators is so 'Minority Report'. Harold Belker must be chuckling at this. Surprisingly, Mazda's entry is the most unimaginative and it looks like a car that can be built today with a regular package. It looks good but it's just a regular sports car, not really thinking outside the box as far as this contest goes. They should've saved this design for the next RX-7 concept or something. And the concept of a car that can switch between autonomous and driver mode is so old and played out even students have been doing that for the last several years. I expected more from Mazda. The JAC Motors entry is just an Audi Shark ripoff. Google it and you'll see. At first I was very surprised that the Mazda entry is winning this poll by a wide margin. But thinking about it for a minute it actually doesn't surprise me at all. Most - if not all - of the people who voted or commented in this thread are not in the Automotive/Transportation Design Industry. You probably never attended or even heard of Art Center or CCS, RCA, Hongik University, Strate College, IED etc... Most of you are probably average Joes who just like cars but since you're not in the field of Transportation Design you simply lack the imagination or fortitude to think progressively and outside the box, which is something that every design school like the ones mentioned above strongly encourages their students to do. And those very students are the ones who graduate and become Automotive designers and help design the cars you drive and see on the road today. So you guys can knock these all you want and vote for the most unimaginative entry (the Mazda) as the best one. I don't blame you. And yes, none of these entries will be production models except maybe the Mazda, but you're all missing the point if you think this contest was to design production models. These design concepts and the LADC are meant to be futuristic and very Hollywood (it's LA after all), thought provoking, and inspiring.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Right on MD. Words from my own mouth. Can tell you're a fellow designer. And though you didn't list my school (not a dedicated design school), they put out some pretty influential guys back in the day. Ken Parkinson and Clay Dean at GM being two of them. Unfortunately they no longer have a dedicated trans program.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The problem with the Auto Industry: They hold "Design Challenges" for artists to innovate the looks. But they do NOT hold "Engineering Challenges" to innovate the functionality. We need more X-Prize type competition... not 'busy work' for struggling artists. When a car is centered around an artist, and has no real engineering chops... it fails. Ask Henrik. Make the cars functional first, then artists can work within those constraints and the beauty will flow from that.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Engineering innovations(improved aerodynamics, horsepower, drive-train efficiency) can be patented and are worth real money - you wouldn't just give away your detailed design documents to win some crappy competition.
    • Load More Comments