Stuttgart/Los Angeles – American West Coast zest for life meets German technology, design art, and granny's hand-knitted woollen socks. The designers at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Sindelfingen based their design for an unusual smart with four seats for this year's Los Angeles Design Challenge on these principles. The smart 454 is produced by "Smart Granny Robots" (SGR) using weight watch technologies (WWT). These incredible high-tech robots are equipped with huge knitting needles. Like our grandmothers used to knit, they knit the smart's tridion cell from carbon fibres. This knitting creates complex shapes and structures which enable the vehicle geometry to be optimised in terms of weight and strength. When empty, the visionary small car weighs in at just 454 kilogrammes.
For the Los Angeles Design Challenge international car design studios were invited to design a visionary car weighing 1,000 American pounds (approx. 454 kilogrammes). The four-seater small car had to be safe and comfortable, offer good handling performance and first-class design. Steffen Köhl, Head of Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design says: "As the prototype of the lightweight and environmentally friendly city car smart is predestined for this challenge. It met all the basic requirements. We just had to further optimise the lightweight construction coupled with a distinctive and individual design."
Lightweight design with different materials for an individual look
Every single component of the smart 454 is made of different materials to give it characteristic features and a specific look. Every part is manufactured with the precise materials necessary for a perfect balance between weight and function. The windows, fenders, and bumpers are made of recyclable, coloured plastic. The roof is made of thin yet highly durable recycled textile fabric in various printed and woven patterns. The WWT carbon fibre tyres with integrated suspension have an extremely lightweight design and rule out the risk of a flat tyre. The unique SGR technology is the best lightweight design technology for rims and enables truly unique rims to be produced.
The smart 454 is driven by two 15 kW electric motors which are powered by a replaceable lithium-ion battery. The motors are housed between the rear wheels. In the interior the city runabout does not need an instrument panel at all. All functions are controlled and managed via an iPad, for example speedometer and battery charge indicator, navigation system, or air conditioning.
The modular "clip-on" design principle familiar from smart enables a sheer endless spectrum of customer wishes to be easily realised. Doors, roof, engine, and transmission are simple to exchange – for an individual look and driving fun and the best possible vehicle configuration for every occasion.
Los Angeles Design Challenge
The Los Angeles Design Challenge is part of the Design Los Angeles Conference that will take place from 17 to 18 November 2010 within the framework of the Los Angeles Auto Show. This year international studios will participate for the first time in addition to South Californian design studios working in the automotive industry. The winner of the vision competition will be announced on 18 November 2010.