Written on Tuesday, December 05, 2006 by Gemini
Car manufacturers contemplate living, breathing, clean, green, killer machines
In the imagination of car manufacturer, General Motors, the fuel-guzzling, Hummer could be transformed from the SUV that environmentalists love to hate to an algae-infused, oxygen-exuding buggy that opens up like a flower. GM’s sketch for the “Hummer O2” was named the winner on Thursday of a design contest at the Los Angeles Auto Show that challenged major automakers to design a vehicle with a five-year life span that could be fully recycled.
OTHER ENTRIES IN THIS YEAR’S DESIGN CHALLENGE WERE:
1. Mercedes-Benz REcy:
The REcy, designed by Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America, is a car that is 100 per cent recyclable.It would be made of wood,alloys, glass and rubber and powered by a fourcylinder bio-diesel engine.
2. Toyota RLV:
CALTY Design Research suggested a light-weight electric-powered, tandem-style vehicle where the driver can switch between an electric-driven and a human-driven mode (by pedalling).The car’s manual mode is meant to be used in the stop-and-go-traffic.
3. Mini BioMoke:
BMW’s DesignworksUSA conceptualised a car, which would be composed of biodegradable body panels infused with palm tree seeds. So when the vehicle’s lifespan is up, the buried body panels spring into trees, which help clean the air of toxins.
4. GM Hummer O2
The GM vision for the Hummer O2 includes an algae-filled body shell, designed to shed oxygen. It also opens up like leaves on a stem to catch sunlight when parked. The concept sketch, which was produced by GM’s Advanced Design Studio, shows the Hummer riding on an aluminium shell and powered by a hydrogen tank and fuel cells.
“This design team said, ‘We’ve done hybrids. We’re doing fuel cells. What’s the next step that actually improves the environment?’” said Frank Saucedo, director of GM’s design lab.
Saucedo said the GM team had deliberately chosen the Hummer for its imagined environmental remake... “People think of it as a military vehicle and a SUV, but really these types of vehicles were for people who worked in the outdoors, environmentalists, naturalists and outdoorsmen,” he said. “This is just us coming full circle.” The GM entry in the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge won out over a number of equally ambitious vehicle sketches from other automakers.
5. Acura FCX 2020 Le Mans:
The Acura FCX 2020 racing car, from the Acura Design Centre, would be powered, the designers say, “by a compact fuel cell made possible by molecular nanotechnology.”
6. Audi Dynamic Space Frame:
Volkswagen/ Audi Design Centre’s entry would have a single fluid-electrical component that integrates the chassis, transmission and electronic controls. It would swap a traditional driveshaft for a fluid-filled body charged with an electric current.
7. Honda Extreme:
The Extreme concept designed by Honda R&D features a honeycomb polycarbonate chassis that can be combined with different body styles to achieve complete customisation.
8. Kia Sandstorm:
Hyundai Kia America Design Centre’s entry is a biodiesel hybrid plug-in with body panels that can be switched and recycled whenever its owner desires a new look.
9. Volkswagen Nanospyder:
The Volkswagen/Audi Design Centre, meanwhile, offered a vehicle capable of being constructed by nanomachines smaller than a half a millimetre. The point? These microscopic builders could vary the density of the vehicle’s frame, enabling more responsive crumple zones for enhanced safety.