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Mercedes Dreams of Rickshaws and Cars Knit by Robots


This year’s Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge tackles a heavy question: How do you build a lightweight car that doesn’t compromise safety, styling or performance?

Mercedes-Benz’s answer to that question involves a high-end rickshaw, a Smart knit by lovable robot grandmothers and a sedan grown from seeds. We swear these are concepts from Mercedes, not Citroën.

For the first time in its 7-year history, the Design Challenge expanded its reach beyond Southern California and invited Mercedes-Benz design studios from Japan and Germany to participate in the annual competition. As thanks for the invite, Mercedes brought concepts that stick out amidst relatively staid designs from General Motors, Honda and Nissan like Hammer Pants at the Highland Games.

This year’s rules stipulate that entries must weigh less than 1,000 pounds (1,500 with passengers). They’ll be judged by “artistic beauty, comfort, uniqueness of design, roadworthiness, sustainability, performance and user-friendliness of the vehicle.” We’re sure our commenters will weigh in on whether some of these avant-garde designs meet these criteria.

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