With all the talk of tighter Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements lately (35.5 miles-per-gallon in 2016, and some legislators calling for 60 mpg nine years after that), a lot of us gearheads are understandably worried about the future. However, forcing automakers to devise substantially more efficient new cars might not be all bad news; to make such quantum leaps in fuel economy, cars will have to be noticeably lighter than they are now, because clean diesels, hybrid systems and the like won’t be enough by themselves. And in addition to increased efficiency, less mass also means better acceleration, braking and handling.
Against this backdrop, the people behind the Los Angeles Auto Show’s annual Design Challenge drafted the rules for this year’s contest thusly: Create a four-passenger vehicle weighing 1,000 lb. or less that is comfortable, safe, and delivers satisfactory performance and looks. When all was said and done, nine concepts from seven automakers (Daimler created one for each of its three passenger car brands) were submitted and, if you ask us, they’re all significantly less depressing than other people’s visions of our automotive future. But don’t take our word for it; make the jump and judge for yourselves.
Remember the awesomely-sinister (Or is that sinisterly-awesome?) concept coupe from Maybach, the Exelero, from a few years ago? Remember being smitten with its handsome fastback lines, Punisher-esque maw and, oh yeah, a stonking twin-turbo V12? Well, given the reanimated brand’s perpetually shaky future, it should be no surprise that parent company Daimler doesn’t seem to have any intent of putting the thing into production. Bummer, man.
But some of you really, really want one. You’re outta luck, right? Not if a recent JamesList posting is to be believed you aren’t. Well, you sorta are. To quote an obscure coach for a little-known Great Lakes area football franchise, “What the hell is going on out here?!”