Each year, the Los Angeles Auto Show hosts a design competition to challenge automakers and automotive designers to come up with futuristic designs tailored to a specific goal. We’ve seen several entries already, but Volvo’s just released more info on its entry, the Air Motion.
The objective for this year’s design contest was to create a 2+2 vehicle that weighs in at under 1000 pounds and meets all of the government’s safety criteria, creating an interesting problem for engineers and designers to solve. Volvo’s certainly solved them as its Air Motion concept comes in at a scant 902 pounds.
In order to meet the target weight, Volvo ditched most of the convenience features commonly found in cars today; about the only concepts that carry over are that it rides on four wheels and can carry a driver and three passengers. The internal-combustion engine is gone, along with all the requisite cooling and oiling systems, replaced instead by four lightweight, pneumatic motors — one at each wheel. The pneumatic motors drive each wheel directly through innovative gearing that turns the hollow wheel itself into a gear.
Of course ditching the heavy ICE is a good way to save [lots of] weight, but it wasn’t the only way in which Volvo dropped the Air Motion into the lightweight class. Volvo crafted the entire car from lightweight carbon fiber with minimal bodywork. It features a clamshell-like design with open sections where the doors would normally be located. To meet crash standards however, there are upper and lower structural elements — similar to the 2006 Nissan URGE concept. Volvo even went as far as removing a pair of seats opting to instead create seats that feature a back-to-back seating arrangement to save a few pounds.
While we’d love to see the Air Motion in action, Volvo’s unfortunately only rolling out a one-quarter scale model of it at the L.A. Auto Show — just in time for the judging. Check back with us later today as the winner of the design competition should be announced later this afternoon.