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Cadillac Aera Wins LA Auto Show Design Challenge

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On: Mon, Nov 22, 2010 at 10:14AM | By: Chris Weiss

Cadillac Aera Wins LA Auto Show Design Challenge

Capping off what must be one of the best weeks in GM history, Cadillac's design team took home the Design Challenge prize at the LA Auto Show. The team entered a polymer-skinned, mono-formed alloy frame concept known as the Aera.

The goal of the 7th annual Design Challenge was to create a vehicle that weighed no more than 1000 pounds and was able to transport four passengers comfortably and efficiently. GM joined more than half a dozen competitors that included Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo. Cadillac actually tied with the Smart 454 for first place. Both vehicles met the requirements of the competition while truly exemplifying their brands.

Like its competition, Cadillac leapt outside the box with both feet and created a concept that put a new spin on the automobile: a pneumatic powertrain with a 10,000-psi composite air tank delivering up to 1,000 miles of driving before needing to recharge. Of course, when your car is powered by air pressure, you need to keep things light and Cadillac did that with a biomimetic, 3D lattice, mono-formed frame and a polymer skin that is ultralight, flexible and aerodynamic. Air pockets built into the skin help to provide a light but effective form of safety enhancement. Inside, there's seating for four and room for two people's luggage.

Other features of the Aera include an All-in-One (AIO) system that combines propulsion, suspension and steering, scissor doors and Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication (V2V) for increased safety on the road. And, of course, despite the Aera's radical looks, Caddy still managed to squeeze its easily recognized grille in there.

Lead designer Jussi Timonen explained in a release: "The Cadillac Aera concept was designed to continue the forward-thinking imagination of Cadillac's 'art and science' philosophy. 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."

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