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Auto blogWed, 13 Nov 2013
Participants in the annual LA Design Challenge always manage to come up with edgy, wacky designs for future vehicles, but with a theme of "Biomimicry and Mobility: 2025" this year's crop of cars might be the quirkiest we've ever seen. As usual, automotive designers from around the world participated in this year's competition, and all the designs will all be unveiled next week during the LA Auto Show with a winner being announced on November 21.
Chinese automakers made a strong showing with Qoros, SAIC Motor, JAC Motors (the company responsible for the Ford F-150 clone) and Changfeng all bringing interesting takes on the biology, human intelligence and sustainability theme. One of the more innovative ideas among these automakers is the Qoros Silk Road System allows autonomous vehicles to drive in packs similar to how ants travel. Speaking of ants, the SAIC Motor Mobiliant (shown above) gets its design from the shape of an ant's body, and, like the insect, it can climb building acting as a personal elevator as well. The JAC Motors design also merges vehicle and building design, while the Changfeng LaBrea inspired by the design of muscle fibers.
Other entrants include Subaru and US-based design teams for BMW, Toyota and Mazda. BMW's duo of concepts mimic plant and animal life. The LA Subways concept acts as a submersible, single-person vehicle to take advantage of the LA river, with a shape similar to an Ocean Sunfish. The Sustainable Efficient Exploratory Device (SEED) imitates the shape of a seed pod, and uses propulsion methods inspired by a shark, dragonfly and a water bug. Mazda's Auto Adapt might be the most car-like concept of the bunch, while the Subaru Suba-Roo and the Calty-designed, Toyota e-grus are the most mind-blowingly awesome.
We're a little shocked that the unnamed owner of this cliff-diving E46 BMW M3 would upload the in-car footage of his accident to YouTube. Not only that, he uploaded two videos: raw footage of his roll down the cliff (it looks like somewhere in the Southwest, maybe Arizona) and a tribute video for his BMW that suffered the most severe consequences of understeer. Not only does uploading the videos leave him wide open for judgment by fellow enthusiasts (just read the YouTube comments), but we imagine if the police and his insurance company somehow don't know about the incident already, they will shortly. Scroll below to view for yourself.
The raw footage shows the sort of driving that led to the M3's violent tumble, and it serves as a good public service announcement reminder for everyone out there: Just like the Spengler's streams, double yellow lines aren't meant to be crossed. Also, hard driving is one thing, but hammering on public roads at speeds clearly above your skill levels as a driver is not only a recipe for legal trouble, it's a script for ruining your car at the very least, if not your life.
It's easy to dismiss the 2015 BMW X4. On one hand, the high-style crossover seems more like a boardroom decision than a practical one. In a world with the 3 Series, 4 Series, X3, 3 Series GT and 4 Series Gran Coupe, is BMW really being inundated with requests for a baby X6? Of course, when we finally got behind the wheel of the CUV for our First Drive, it proved rather entertaining, and certainly the X6's global sales success suggests that it's worth the relatively low-cost risk for the Bavarian automaker.
Now, it's the general public's chance to weigh in on the latest crossover Bimmer and vote with their dollars. The X4 is just hitting showrooms in the US, and BMW is beginning its marketing campaign for it with the slogan "Embrace the Unknown." The first TV ad shows off the CUV driving through the world's major cities as they undulate like the rolling ocean. A woman flatly says phrases starting with "Go," while a synth-heavy score plays underneath that wouldn't be out of place over the end credits in an '80s sci-fi movie.
Visually, it's actually kind of a cool ad and evokes some of the special effects from Inception. Focusing on an urban atmosphere is probably a good idea, too, because the percentage of X4s going offroad is likely to be in the low single digits, if that. Now, let's see if BMW buyers are willing to embrace the unknown of the X4. Scroll down to watch it for yourself.