We've discussed the LA Auto Show's Design Challenge 2010 before. The concept competition this year featured a veritable host of alien-looking cars, built from the most ridiculous materials possible, using the most unconventional fuels in the market.
Well the numbers are in, and we finally have a winner. Is it the Mercedez Biome or the Maybach DRS? The Honda Air? Mazda's Anorexic Miata? Nope. First place is a tie, and goes to two cars we haven't featured yet: Cadillac's Aera and the Smart 454.
Let's start off with the Cadillac Aera. As the name suggests, it runs on compressed air, just like Honda's entry. However, despite being 200lbs heavier, the its range is 10 times that of the Air. General Motors claims that its highly-efficient Pneumatic Drive System and 10,000 PSI composite air tank will let the Aera go 1,000 miles before refuelling.
Its one-piece frame adopts the polyhedral lattice structure found commonly in nature, like in beehives and clumps of bubbles. This lets the Aera keep off the weight while maintaining structural integrity. Further weight reduction is achieved with an all-in-one wheel system, which combines propulsion, steering and suspension in a simpler form.
The other winning entry is the Smart 454 by Weight Watch Technologies of Germany. The Smart's claim to fame and accolades is in its construction: the little modular car will be "knit" together out of carbon fiber using WWT's Smart Granny Robots. According to WWT, the proprietary construction method allows them to optimize the Smart's strength and weight.
Both these cars, along with the non-winning participants, are probably the most fanciful concepts their respective manufacturers have created. We might not see any of them in our lifetimes, but it's comforting to know what our automotive future has in store.