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Auto Show: Los Angeles Auto Show gives preview into design competition

Tue, 21 Dec 2004 Ask automobile designers to come up with their interpretation of the 'Ultimate LA Machine' and you'll get a broad array of creative ideas. That's precisely what the LA Auto Show asked Los Angeles area automobile design studios to do - and the results are fascinating, entertaining and thought provoking.

The LA Auto Show has provided a sneak peek into the competition by releasing one of the 13 entries - the Hyundai NTT, 'Entity', submitted by the Hyundai Kia America Design Center. All other entries will be visible on the LA Auto Show media days beginning January 5, with the winner announced on January 6.

The Hyundai design team describes the banana-colored NTT as part surfboard, skateboard and BOOMbox. It has tandem four-row seating to slice through traffic and a built-in surfboard forming the roofline. The studio suggests, ?The Hyundai NTT is not only a vehicle, it's a way of life.?

The design challenge is part of the auto show's theme - 'Design Los Angeles' - as a way to showcase Los Angeles area design studios' imagination in a fun and creative manner. Over the past several months, studios have internally debated and some have even held competitions to determine which two-dimensional conceptual rendering will represent their individual studio.

According to David O'Connell, chief designer at Mitsubishi Research & Design of North America, it's been hard to keep all his designers from becoming involved. ?Projects like this are really fun to work on, even though they are truly 'blue sky' in nature,? O'Connell explained. ?Yet at the same time, they are firmly grounded in real world challenges that require real world solutions.?

Design Los Angeles, in addition to being the show's theme, doubles as a conference for automobile designers on January 6. A number of programs, speakers and breakout sessions have been developed in close collaboration with the design community to serve the professional interests of automobile designers.

Opening the inaugural conference as the featured speaker is Frank Stephenson, director of concept design at Ferrari Maserati Group. Stephenson is in an enviable position, holding the keys to the future direction of two of the most revered automobile marques in history. Appointed in July 2002, Stephenson's influence has been seen in the Maserati MC12 and in the all-new Ferrari F430, which makes its North American debut at the LA Auto Show. Previously, he spent 11 years at BMW, where he began as a senior designer in Munich and eventually took over as chief designer, where he penned the popular New Mini Cooper.