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Mercedes Hits Design Challenge LA With Three Futuristic 1000 Pounders

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On: Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 5:33PM | By: Chris Weiss


Mercedes Hits Design Challenge LA With Three Futuristic 1000 Pounders

The goal of this year's Design LA competition was to create a 1,000 lb. vehicle that could seat four comfortably and safely. For the first time, the competition extended beyond U.S. borders into Germany and Japan. Mercedes-Benz took the challenge seriously, offering three of the most distinctive concepts of the competition, including its radical Biome concept.

Mercedes chose to do three concepts as to provide one for each of its three brands: Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach. The concept that's been making the biggest stir out of Mercedes' designs--possibly out of the whole competition--is the Biome. Hailing from the creative minds in Mercedes' advanced design studio in Carlsbad, California, the Biome weighs well under the challenge max at just a tad over 875 lbs. Part of what helps it achieve such a low weight is its biofiber body crafted from organic material grown in a nursery. When the Biome runs out of life, the material can be fed directly back into the earth via composting or can be recycled into building material.

Okay, biofiber body? That really sounds like some fantastical pandering to overzealous green kooks. So let's look a little closer at what makes this interesting as a car. The most obvious factor is the loss of all doors. Instead of featuring four doors or two doors, the Biome has what appears to be a dual-hinged body that raises up on either side so that all four passengers can jump in. Kind of like a gullwing exterior. Another unique element is the seating arrangement, which is done in a diamond format rather than the typical 2 + 2. The driver is the only one in the front and the rear-most passenger is directly behind him looking backwards. The other two passengers are at the sides.

Not that Mercedes really had to confirm that its hyper-organic, biofiber car is all concept, but it did anyway. Don't expect to be driving this plant-car anytime in the future.

While the Biome was the only contestant that Mercedes had a 1:1 model of, the company also has the Smart 454 and Maybach eRikscha. The 454 is a bulbous buggy that is crafted from "smart granny robots" (yes, that's correct). It is powered by two 15 kW electric motors and a lithium-ion battery and weighs exactly 1,000 lbs. (454 kg). The eRikscha or Den-Riki-Sha is a rickshaw-inspired vehicle that is basically a big pod with two skinny wheels. And if you're wondering how this one's built, all we can say is "DNA Cocoon."

Biofiber? DNA cocoon? Granny robots? It looks like there were some late-night smoke sessions in Mercedes designland. And the smoke-session-derived vehicles undoubtedly left you with more than a few questions. You can check out the full descriptions of those and all entrants at LA's website. Of course, the descriptions may just leave you with more questions, but that's all we've got to go on.


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