NEWS: Design Los Angeles 2006 features ten hot concepts

January 1, 2006
View All (11) Photos
Calty 03 H 900
As it did last year, show management is showcasing "Design Los Angeles," a special day of seminars for design professionals from the fourteen automotive design studios located in Southern California. The general public will be able to catch a glimpse of the work done by these studios with the display of entries in a formal design competition, "An L.A. Adventure." Ten studios have submitted color renderings for the competition.
The keynote speaker for Design Los Angeles will be Chris Bangle, the chief of design for the BMW Group. Much of the design conference itself will feature technical presentations that relate to the design process. This has special appeal in Southern California, where there are more working design professionals than anywhere else in the world. Ken Okuyama, the design director for Pininfarina, will also make a presentation of the Maserati Birdcage 75th which will be on display at the show.
Design also promises to become an even larger part of the Los Angeles auto show in 2006, as the event will change its dates. After the 2006 show finishes in January, the 2007 Los Angeles auto show will take place 1-10 December 2006, and the show will assume this spot on the calendar for the future, making it the first event of the auto show season.
The auto manufacturers are reportedly enthusiastic about the date change, because it helps get the L.A. show away from its overlap with the Detroit show and the accompanying media clutter. As a result, there's a better chance that L.A. will become the preferred debut opportunity for new models, especially those being introduced by manufacturers based on the west coast. Moreover, the date change should also reduce the workload at the specialty shops that actually build concept cars (Metalcrafters, Inc. in nearby Santa Ana is one notable example), because the concept completion dates can be spread out over a longer time.
Perhaps these things will also make it more likely that we'll see a larger number of forward-looking design concepts on the floor of all the major auto shows. We've noticed a growing emphasis on lightly disguised production concepts in recent years, as there's been less time (and money) available to produce truly futuristic designs. Like the examples of "blue-sky" thinking you'll see in the renderings submitted to the Design Los Angeles that you'll see in the following pages, sometimes the future can be wacky and even silly, but sometimes you can find a spark of creativity that will lead to something useful.
The entries follow for "Design Challenge: An LA Adventure." We've included the names of the designers, a description of the project in their own words and our reaction.
Visit the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show for more information.
0601 Design Los Angeles 01 900
Audi Nero: The All-Nighter
Design by Jess Harder, Raul Cenan; Volkswagen/Audi Design Center California
The designers' description
The Audi Nero ("nero" is the Latin translation for the color "black") is a concept based on the evolution of the streamlined Auto Union racing cars of the 1930s, which set land-speed records on a German autobahn. The aerodynamic surfaces, covered wheels, and minimal ground clearance create a stealthy modern interpretation of its inspirational ancestors. The Nero's carbon-black color reflects the mood of L.A., while the strong silhouette is punctuated by compelling technical details. A translucent hood showcases a powerful, Auto Union-style, V-16 engine to back up the aggressive front end. The Nero super coupe is an expression of pure power, speed and style that turns any L.A. night into an adventure.
Our take
Batman meets Sin City, more proof that there has been a movie car lurking in the soul of every designer since the 1920s, when GM's Harley Earl built Roman chariots for silent pictures as a young designer in Los Angeles.
0601 Design Los Angeles 03 900
GMC Pad: Why Commute?
Designers: Steve Anderson, Senon B. Franco III, Jay Bernard, Phil Tanioka, Sidney Levy, Brian Horton, Alessandro Zezza, Christine Ebner, Frank Saucedo; GM West Coast Advanced Design Studio
The designers' description
Why commute? Adapt instead. That's the thinking behind the GMC Pad, which offers an innovative look at an urban loft with mobility. It's a home ownership concept that enables cultural and geographic freedom for the modern city dweller. The GMC Pad features a diesel-electric hybrid powerplant that produces propulsion while in DriveMode and also serves as a generator for the on-board power grid in LifeMode. The media-rich environment is unlike any other, and comes with an endless variety of entertainment, information and security options. With the GMC PAD, home is where you want it. And commuting is what other people do.
Our take
Airstream trailer meets modern motorhome, a reaction to the staggering cost of real estate in Los Angeles and the pittance that young designers earn.
0601 Design Los Angeles 04 900
Honda L.A. Rolling Film Festival
Designers: Honda Research & Development
The designers' description
The Movies! That's one common attribute of L.A. that's recognized worldwide. In honor of L.A.'s movie persona, the designers at Honda have created vignettes of vehicles and lifestyles for several of the cultures, lifestyles and images of L.A. And they designed them with the imaginative consideration of the second most important characteristic of L.A.-living on roadways. For the fitness crowd, there's the Running Bus, and this ingenious human-powered hybrid bus features ten stationary running machines as its power source. Then there's the Jacarzzi, a sleek sports car that doubles as a hot tub. And the vehicles are presented in the most easily understood language of L.A., the movie poster.
Our take
Totally high concept, as they like to say during power lunches between Hollywood executives at the Ivy, but also about as much content as a situation comedy on Fox.
0601 Design Los Angeles 05 900
Hyundai Greenspeed Gator
Designer: Eric M. Stoddard; Hyundai Kia America Design Center
The designer's description
What happens when drag racing moves beyond internal combustion and nitrous oxide? It's the Hyundai Greenspeed Gator, which pushes the boundaries of both design and fuel-cell performance. Inspired by the front-engine, "slingshot" drag-racing cars of the 1960s, this alien shape is purely functional. The overall design consists of a main fuselage with integrated rollover protection above the driver's "seat sling," while the chassis is tied together by a center-spine configuration with integrated fuel cells. The giant hood blisters conceal the hydrogen storage tanks, while the oversize rear wheels conceal gargantuan electric motors.
Our take
Looks like an oversize radio-controlled racer, yet it also has an RC car's inspired simplicity and purposefulness.
0601 Design Los Angeles 06 900
Kia Sidewinder
Designer: Marc Mainville; Hyundai/Kia American Design Center
The designer's description
This Kia is a two-seat, lean, mean, drifting machine! The Sidewinder's power comes from a turbine that runs on compressed natural gas, which produces electricity for the high-capacity motors integrated into the wheels. This environmentally responsible vehicle would surely grab the most attention while sliding sideways on a drift course. Kia chose drifting as its theme because Los Angeles was the scene of the first internationally sanctioned drift event in America.
Our take
Dramatic visual presentation carries overtones of sports-prototype racing cars, and alternate bodywork in blue-and-orange recalls Gulf Oil sponsorship of the Ford GT40 sports car, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1968 and 1969.
0601 Design Los Angeles 07 900
Maybach California Gourmet Tourer
Designer: Andre Frey; Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of America
The designer's description
The Maybach California Gourmet Tourer is the ultimate machine to enjoy a culinary adventure. Fully automated, the Maybach is safely chauffeured by software using GPS guidance. Offering panorama-style windows to enjoy the scenery, it comes fully equipped with every feature imaginable to store and prepare both food and wine. It features refrigeration, espresso machine, microwave, wine rack, food preparation area, recycler, foldout tables and other accessories to make any picnic an unforgettable adventure.
Our take
Luxury car designers seem to be obsessed with picnics don't they? If you actually went to see Sideways of your own volition, you'll love this designated driver in the shape of a rolling Merlot wagon.
0601 Design Los Angeles 08 900
Mercedes-Benz Mojave Runner
Designer: John Gill; Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of America
The designer's description
The Mojave Runner is a gasoline-electric hybrid designed to thrive in extreme heat, rough terrain and unpredictable weather. It features night vision, sandstorm radar and GPS sensors, and is equipped with an electric generator powered by a hydrogen fuel cell to actuate tools and rescue equipment. The lightweight yet strong exoskeleton frame combines carbon fiber and pressure-cast aluminum tubing that stores air for the pneumatically actuated power tools. Intelligent adaptive tires that automatically change tread depth for top performance on all kinds of surfaces help optimize the Mojave Runner's off- and on-road capability.
Our take
Apparently, young designers still do some of their most important musing in study hall during high school, as illustrated by this enthusiastic combination of RC-controlled toy, Southern California desert racer, and eco-friendly device.
0601 Design Los Angeles 09 900
Mitsubishi Roadster Konzept
Designer: Mark Kim; Mitsubishi Research & Design of North America
The designer's description
The Mitsubishi Roadster Konzept (MRK) is a compact, sporty hybrid that combines L.A.'s hip image with a sophisticated look. Environmentally responsible, the MRK is powered at all four wheels by Mitsubishi's technology for in-wheel electric motors. The 280 horsepower provided by the individual wheel motors combines with the rear-mounted 80-hp engine to deliver an impressive 360 hp for zipping around congested freeways. The MRK has two, front sports seats, plus a rear rumble seat for two passengers or cargo.
Our take
Recalls the new generation of affordable, compact hardtop convertibles that have been appearing in Europe recently, but without much impact on making the configuration's silhouette any less awkward.
0601 Design Los Angeles 02 900
Scion Exile
Designer: Matt Sperling; Calty Design Research
The designer's description
The Scion Exile is designed to whisk its individualistic occupants to the snowy slopes, sandy beaches and hip nightlife all in the same day. To appeal to the upscale/sport crowd, the proportions of the cab-forward Exile are similar to those of expensive-yet-impractical exotic sports cars, yet with a go-anywhere attitude. A clever trunk doubles as a moveable cargo pod that can be extended, lowered and wheeled as a mobile storage locker. With so many activities to choose from in a single day, the Scion Exile accommodates all that L.A. has to offer.
Our take
An interesting attempt to deliver Scion-style utility and affordability in a package that resembles an exotic sports car, although still cursed by the lack of surface development which is typical of Toyota designs.
0601 Design Los Angeles 10 900
Smart Rescue Vehicle
Designer: Hubert Lee; Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of America
The designer's description
From Smart comes the ideal cruiser for the beaches in crowded Southern California. The Smart Rescue Vehicle is designed for the adventures and tasks that a lifeguard endures on a daily basis, such as first aid, beach patrol, plus safety and water rescues. The driver sits high in a seating position that recalls a personal watercraft, while the vehicle can accommodate four passengers. The turbocharged 800cc Smart engine is mounted in the middle of the car between the front and rear seats, where it also powers the jet drive when the vehicle goes into amphibious mode.
Our take
Alert David Hasselhof, as this Smart hopes to takes its place among the Nissan and GMC pickup trucks now patrolling beaches in Southern California; the 800-cc engine should deliver the proper slow-motion dynamics in authentic Baywatch style.

Comments

Photo Gallery

Research A Vehicle

Select a vehicle to research pricing, see photos, compare similar vehicles and much more.
Research Now

Top Lists

Find Local Car Deals