This year's Los Angeles Design Challenge ended with a tie, as judges, after much deliberation, declared two winners: the Cadillac Aera and smart 454 WWT. The challenge was to envision a four passenger car tipping the scales under 1,000 lbs (454 kg).
"Deciding this year's Design Challenge winner was a tremendously difficult decision as the quality of entries has increased throughout the years", agreed the Design Los Angeles judges. "This year's winners - the Cadillac Aera and the smart 454 WWT - offer two very different visions of the 1,000 lb. Car, yet are equally as amazing. They are both very expressive of their brand; GM is art and science and smart is playful and fun".
As with the Mercedes BIOME design study, the "science" behind the two winning concepts is equally off the charts.
According to GM's designers:
Cadillac Aera"The Cadillac Aera (Aero + Era) launches Cadillac's philosophy of "Art and Science" into new territory by taking an innovative and stylistic approach to ultra-light weight vehicle design. Aera is a 1000 lb, 2+2 touring coupe, with a range of 1000 miles before refueling; attributes achieved without compromising size, capacity and safety.
Optimum efficiency, minimum parts
Aera's highly advanced body structure utilizes a 3D lattice, mono-formed frame. This polyhedral structure is similar to configurations found consistently in nature, e.g., inside the grouping of bubbles. The structure is formed from unique, alloy-utilizing, semi-solid freeform manufacturing, creating a naturally strong, extremely lightweight frame. All major body parts, including interior components, are essentially "grown" into a single part lattice structure.
Renowned Cadillac smoothness and quietness are accomplished using the harnessed power of compressed air via a highly efficient Pneumatic Drive System (PDS). Its 10,000 psi composite air storage tank has ample capacity for a 1000 mile range. Flexible, pressurized air cells in the exterior skin, similar to material developed for the NASA Mars Rover airbags, enhance passive safety and interior comfort. The flexible polymer skin optimizes aerodynamics and functions as an ultra-lightweight alternative to conventional body panels and glass.
Additional technologies include an All-In-One (AIO) wheel system, combining rotary actuator propulsion, steering and suspension functions. A drive by wireless system decreases the mass of electrical components. Vehicle to vehicle communication (V2V) promotes active safety.
The Cadillac Aera embodies a stylistic, lightweight, minimalist approach to long distance luxury touring."
The concept behind the smart 454 WWT is "out there", too. Here's how Smart describes the concept:
Smart 454 WWT
"The Smart 454 by Weight Watch Technologies from Germany.
(454kg is about 1000lb)
West coast fun and innovation meets German technology, design and grannies' hand knit socks.
Manufactured by incredibly high-tech robots that look as friendly and cuddly as our grandmothers, the Tridion-frame (chassis) is knit by our "Smart Granny Robots" (otherwise know as SGRs) out of carbon fibre. The knitting can create complex shapes and forms, enabling the geometry to be optimized in strength and weight.
We use different materials for each individual part to give every piece of the car its own specific properties and look. Each part is manufactured with the exact material necessary for an optimal balance between weight and function. Windows, fenders and bumpers are all made of recyclable plastics with ingrained colors. The roof is a thin, but highly durable recycled textile that comes with different prints and weavings.
Construction of the WWT carbon fibre wheels with integrated suspension are very lightweight and make it also impossible to run a flat tire. Our unique SGR technology allows for truly unique looking rims and the best lightweight technology in a rim.
The modular "clip-on" construction principal allows easy and endless customizing: a typical WWT of Sindelfingen and smart signature. The doors, roof, engine and drive-train are also very easy to remove or exchange, allowing for perfect functionality, looks, fun and the best tuning for any occasion.
Lightweight, fun and clever: Smart, the WWT from Germany.
Hand knit socks and grannies have never been so much fun…"
Besides the weight limit, all participating cars had to fulfill a number of criteria, such as beauty, comfort, uniqueness of design, sustainability and performance. You can see the rest of the pipe-dream contestants in our two part story here and here.
By Csaba Daradics