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2006 L.A. Auto Show Los Angeles Design Challenge

A little-known part of the Los Angeles Auto Show has been the annual Design Challenge. Held since late 2004, it puts forth a theme for designers to interpret, resulting in some wild ideas. The contestants work in teams and are anything but novices. In fact, they represent world-renowned auto design studios.

For 2006, the theme was “An L.A. Adventure” characterized by the urban jungle. Entering the competition that year were: Audi, GMC, Honda, Hynudai, Kia, Maybach (yes, Maybach), Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Scion, and Smart. Truly interesting is seeing how each of the companies interpreted the three-word theme.

The submissions are shown below, the winning entry is shown last.

2006 Audi Nero

Audi Nero

2006 Honda LA Rolling Film Festival

Honda L.A. Rolling Film Festival

2006 Hyundai Gator

Hyundai Gator

2006 Kia Sidewinder

Kia Sidewinder

2006 Maybach California Gourmet Tourer

Maybach California Gourmet Tourer

2006 Mercedes-Benz Mojave Runner

Mercedes-Benz Mojave Runner

2006 Mitsubishi Roadster Konzept MRK

Mitsubishi Roadster Konzept MRK

2006 Scion Exile

Scion Exile

2006 Smart Rescue Vehicle

Smart Rescue Vehicle

And, if you haven’t yet deduced it, the winner was…

2006 GMC PAD


The judges included Stewart Reed, chairman of Transportation Design at the Art Center College of Design, Imre Molnar, dean of the College for Creative Studies, and Tom Matano, director of Industrial Design for Academy of Art University. Reed was quoted at the time as saying, “We chose this vehicle because it was the pinnacle of creativity,” and “All the entrants were fantastic designs, but this design was the one which took the biggest risk.” Matano said, “This creates a new segment between the RV and the SUV. The future of this Living Activity Vehicle would appeal to many buyers including corporations, future home-owners, traveling business people and constant travelers looking to go beyond the stereotypical RV.”

The GMC PAD was envisioned as a mobile loft-type living space and a form of affordable housing. Living Activity Vehicle, or LAV, is what GMC called it. Conceived as a diesel-electric hybrid, the engine served double-duty as generator for the inhabitant’s needs. Packed wall-to-wall with screens and gadgets for communications, entertainment and systems operation, the interior would keep any tech geek happy for days.

The rig naturally included appliances for cooking and cleaning and, when possible, would run off of stored energy collected from the sun. It really is an interesting concept of a modern take on the RV. Something that covers a little less acreage, has a jet-set feel but doesn’t compromise the coziness expected in a home, even if it is on six really bizarre wheels and morphs its shape depending on demands.

By the way, I am absolutely wild about its looks, so this isn’t a slight, but it took me a minute to figure out which end is the front. Double check, you may be surprised.