Detroit Auto Show 2012: Michelin Challenge Design

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

What sort of vehicles will the cities of 2046 need? That’s the theme of the 2012 Michelin Challenge Design, which invited aspiring designers to create specific cars for Los Angeles, Mumbai, Paris, Rio de Janeiro or Shanghai. 2046 marks the centenary of Michelin’s invention of the radial tyre, by  the way.

There were over 200 entries from 88 countries and 27 concepts were selected for display at the Detroit Auto Show. Full gallery and the lowdown on each at the Michelin Challenge Design website, but here’s a few of my favourites.

X2 (top), by Yeon-woo Seong, an industrial design student from South Korea, is completely symmetrical and can operate in any direction – just swivel the driver’s seat. This saves space, eases congestion and simplifies parking; it’s powered by four in-wheel electric motors which can be charged wirelessly. A simple but potentially very effective idea – and you’ve got to love someone who cites the Zundapp Janus as an inspiration.

RCA graduate Elizabeth Pinder’s Nyx (second) is a personal car for Paris (other entrants explored car-sharing) which is effectively powered by rainwater (if only) thanks to hydrogen-splitting to produce electricity. Perhaps by 2046… looks pretty, however.

Pexin Li’s CALI (below) looks almost ready to roll now, as do the super-versatile German entry eSTEAM and Nicolas Cabrera’s Carioca, an EV for Rio.

Meanwhile, the dolphin-inspired H2P from Xin ZheChen derives its hydrogen from seawater; Liwen He’s Snake articulates, flexes and stretches, and the Iranian Four-Walled Car is controlled using an iPod-style clickwheel. Mayank Bhandari’s Jeeva Sanskrit Living Organism is a carbon-capture device; Coventry graduate Ian Kettle’s Neuron explores brain-machine interface technology; and the Stack, a group project from India, does exactly what its name suggests in order to ease parking problems. My prize for sheer whimsical wonderfulness goes to Kyu-HanChoi’s Icehicle, however; this hydrogen-fuelled Parisian commuter car emits water vapour to form rainbow trails and snowflake-patterned tyre prints.

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