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by Tim Beissmann

If horsepower and real-world data are what you look for in a new car, the latest designs showcased by Mercedes-Benz at the Los Angeles Auto Show’s Design Challenge probably won’t be your cup of tea.

But for those of you who don’t mind a bit of flowery language, reading about imaginary elements, and dreaming of just what the future of automotive design might have in store, these three concepts are for you.

The Mercedes-Benz BIOME was designed in the US and is the only one of the three concepts made to full-scale.

The BIOME’s creators say it is not built, but rather it “grows in a completely organic environment from seeds sown in a nursery”.

DNA in the Mercedes star on the front of the vehicle gives life to BIOME’s interior, while the exterior grows from the badge at the rear. Each star is genetically engineered to accommodate specific customer requirements.

Still with me?

The fuel, a liquid chemical called BioNectar4534, is stored in the “BioFibre” chassis, interior and wheels, and of course, burns clean to produce nothing but oxygen.

And when the BIOME has done its dash and reached the end of its service life, the whole structure is completely compostable or can be used as building material.

Looking for something slightly less abstract?

Try the smart 454. The lightweight, four-seat dune buggy was designed to be safe, comfortable and handle well.

The windows and bumpers are made of recycled plastic, and two 15kW electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries sit between the rear wheels, which are wrapped in carbon fibre tyres and feature integrated suspension.

And now back to nature with the Maybach DRS, an electrically driven luxury rickshaw.

The four-seat DRS develops through metamorphosis from a DNA cocoon and although it is powered by two 20kW electric motors positioned in the wheel hubs, the driver can also opt for pedal power to increase the vehicle’s range.

The Los Angeles Design Challenge is part of the Design Los Angeles conference, taking place on November 17 and 18 as part of the Los Angeles Auto Show. The winner of the competition will be announced on Thursday.




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