L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

For the annual design challenge at this year's L.A. Auto Show, nine automakers were challenged to design a four-passenger vehicle of the future weighing 1,000 lbs. or less. Here's the rickshaws automakers think next-gen light cars will look like.

(H/t to Pessimippopotamus!)

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L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

The Cadillac Aera (Aero + Era): "All major body parts, including interior components, are essentially 'grown' into a single part lattice structure. Powered by compressed air via a Pneumatic Drive System (PDS). Its 10,000 psi composite air storage tank has capacity for a 1000 mile range. Flexible, pressurized air cells in the exterior skin, similar to material developed for the NASA Mars Rover airbags, optimizes aerodynamics and functions as an ultra-lightweight alternative to conventional body panels and glass.

L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

"The Honda Air concept is a vision of the future of lightweight and alternative fuel performance vehicles; a coastal cruiser for the aggressive lifestyle. Inspired by the modern roller coaster as well as skydiving wing-suits, the Air is powered by a compressed air and pneumatic regulator system. It utilizes turbo vacuums and external air-flow to regenerate tank pressure for extended range and increased boost for an estimated 100 miles."

L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

"The Maybach DRS "Den-Riki-Sha" (electric powered rickshaw) embodies these attributes and leverages the traditional values of the classic "Jin-Riki-Sha" (human powered rickshaw), which originated in Tokyo circa 1870. Breathtaking beauty, ingenious luxury and technical brilliance characterize the sophisticated development of the "DRS." This MAYBACH is the first worldwide NMV (Naturally Manufactured Vehicle). Its production process is unique: Per a highly perfected and complex metamorphosis, a readily developed car is born out of a coded DNA-cocoon.

L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

Mazda MX-0: "Our featherweight icon — the MX-5 Miata, tipped the scales at a little over 2,300 pounds in its first generation. Starting with the MX-5 as a benchmark, the design team has carried out a systematic process of reduction and consolidation. In this process, we have redesigned each component in the MX-0 to carry out the functions of several MX-5 components, effectively replacing a multitude of MX-5 parts with fewer, simplified ones."

L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

The Mercedes-Benz Biome uses Symbiosis, where vehicles collect energy from the sun and store it in chemical bonds, in the form of a fluid called BioNectar4534. Mercedes has also developed technology to retrofit trees with receptors which can harvest their excess solar energy into BN4534. This creates an incentive to plant more trees and collect more energy, while also helping the ecosystem. The vehicle can be composted after its lifespan is complete or used as building material.

L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

"Every detail of the Nissan iV is engineered toward renewable, lightweight strength and maximum efficiency. Featuring an interwoven organic frame, iV's chassis material is synthetically grown and formed into a stunning, aerodynamic shape. Derived from fast-growing ivy and re-enforced with spider silk composite, the biopolymer frame is flexible and ultra-light, yet extremely robust. The spacious, panoramic cabin comfortably seats four adults and is constructed from an innovative photovoltaic material that weighs 99% less than traditional glass."

L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

"Manufactured by incredibly high-tech robots that look as friendly and cuddly as our grandmothers, the Tridion-frame (chassis) of the Smart 454 WWT is knit by our 'Smart Granny Robots' (otherwise know as SGRs) out of carbon fibre. The knitting can create complex shapes and forms, enabling the geometry to be optimized in strength and weight."

L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

"As the majority of current generation automobiles consist of a chassis covered by attached body panels, the Toyota NORI concept presents the idea that the body and chassis are one, as a PODULAR form, designed to be strong, light and beautiful. Bioplastics technology is created using "nori" (the Japanese word for seaweed) combined with a carbon fiber weave for strength. Woven into the PODULAR form are solar cells that capture and generate supplemental solar energy. As a holistic solution and new design aesthetic, NORI reduces weight and the number of parts while capturing and generating energy."

L.A. Design Challenge: Your Future Electric Rickshaw Awaits

"A vehicle lighter than a Formula 1 racing car... Experiencing the adrenaline rush of carving through the canyons with up to three friends… Not using a drop of gasoline... Now just imagine if these dreams could be brought together in a single vehicle. Tipping the scales at under 1,000 lbs. the Volvo Air Motion Concept makes these dreams a reality and delivers this in a beautiful Scandinavian body. Designed like a clam shell and sculptured from ultra light carbon fiber."