We saw a number of great concepts at the 7th Annual Los Angeles Design Challenge, including Mercedes BIOME and Volvo AirMotion. But the overall winner is an American contender, the Cadillac Aera Concept, tying with a concept from smart. And it’s not the first time GM Advanced Design wins the L.A. Challenge, they’ve won it three times since 2005.
Like other concepts of this year’s challenge, the Aera focus on weight. The concept is a an efficient four-passenger vehicle that maintained comfort, safety, driving performance and style while not exceeding the “1,000 lb. car” weight limit.
But it wouldn’t be complete with an extraordinary, out this world powertrain! So it’s powered by compressed air provided by a Pneumatic Drive System that has a 10,000-psi composite air storage tank with capacity for a 1,000-mile range.
The compressed air is stored in cells integrated into the body of the vehicle further improving passive safety and interior comfort. The flexible polymer skin optimizes aerodynamics and functions as an ultra-lightweight alternative to conventional body panels and glass.
When we say out this world we mean it, becasue it is similar to the system developed for NASA Mars Rover airbags!
“The Cadillac Aera concept was designed to continue the forward-thinking imagination of Cadillac’s ‘art and science’ philosophy,” explains Jussi Timonen, lead designer for the project. “It’s designed as a small city urban vehicle, but we approached this 2+2 touring coupe very much from the brand’s luxury perspective. Every detail of the Aera was conceived to minimize the vehicle’s environmental impact without sacrificing the style, comfort and attention to detail that are hallmarks of the Cadillac brand.”
The design of the vehicle is also inspired by the nature. Cadillac Aera’s body utilizes a 3D lattice, mono-formed frame that was designed to be similar to configurations found consistently in nature. 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.
The interior is crafted with an ultra-light recyclable polymer that allows for HVAC channels, fully adjustable seating, storage and comfort features all in one mono-form structure. Generous storage space accommodates luggage for two people.
Additional technologies include an all-in-one wheel system that combines rotary actuator propulsion, steering and suspension functions. A drive-by-wire system decreases the mass of electrical components, while vehicle-to-vehicle communication promotes active safety.
“This year’s design challenge was extremely difficult to judge because of the quality of all of the entries, but I believe that the executions that won exemplified everything that we were trying to achieve with this competition,” said Stewart Reed, chair, Transportation Design, Art Center College of Design. “The concepts that won were really spot on for their brands, which was one of many reasons for the victory.”