The 2008 edition of GM Design’s Summer Internship Program concen-trated its energies on vehicles for the Russian, Indian, and Chinese markets of 2020. The only real constraints facing the students were that they use GM’s newest fuel cell for power, and stick exclusively with the Chevrolet brand. Here are the highlights:
Art Center College of Design’s Marc Cammeyer sees his small four-passenger Chevrolet as, “a way to move buyers toward Buick, which is very popular in China, as they grow out of Chevy.” Though the spaceframe is lined with varying densities of aluminum foam to mute noise and add progressive crush characteristics, its signature element is a cantilevered roof. Designed to mimic a tortoise’s shell, it is upstaged only by a front fascia design element that can be turned into a shovel should the vehicle ever become stuck.
Brigham Young University’s Spencer Chamberlin drew his inspiration from Matryoshka dolls that nest one inside the other. The rear section of the car extends 24-in. to double rear volume to 43 ft.3. The roof and hatch are covered with stretchable ballistic nylon coated with an “intelligent molecule” layer from d3o (www.d3o.com) that locks together to absorb impact energy and, in this case, keep the cargo from prying eyes—and hands.
Whereas most of his colleagues created vehicles priced under $20,000, Zhinqing Huang of China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University opted for a sleek $35,000 people mover with scissor front and rear doors. A semi-active suspension with electromagnetic linear dampers motors, bamboo upholstery, polylactic acid-based carpets, and a lignin-based thermolded trim called Arboform (www.tecnaro.de) keep it techie and green, though the high tail makes rear visibility a challenge. Says Huang: “I wanted to break the minivan proportions of cars like the Scion xB, yet provide three-row seating in a compact package.” The he is just 178-in. long.
The only vehicle designed for the Indian market, the Azadi boasts a sealed pontoon-like undercarriage and inflatable pontoons to handle the occasional monsoon. It can also handle more passengers by folding the hatchback down, deploying built-in cushions, and—if needed—removing one of the two pairs of doors to provide an enclosure around the rearmost passengers. College of Creative Studies student designer Evan Mai’s stagecoach-like design uses the roof rack as a crash structure when the hatch seating is deployed. To increase cargo room, the passenger side of the instrument panel can be folded to create a storage bin.
Going for ultimate efficiency while enticing Russian motorcycle riders, Walter Merchant of the University of Cincinnati designed the Reign with motorcycle helmet overtones and a central motorcycle saddle bracketed by two conventional rear seats. The handlebar controls complete the look, and Merchant claims, “The 1+2 seating and swing arm rear wheels allowed me to keep the overall length below 100 inches.” Even more interesting are the rear hub motors that use hubless wheels and opposite polarity magnets to give Maglev train-like propulsion.
Tyler Moffett from the College of Creative Studies says his vehicle is intended for “the rural Russian market where a lagging road infrastructure and poor weather demand a rugged vehicle.” And though Moffett says his vehicle has panels with a consistent crown for softness and exaggerated fenders, hatch, and doors for strength, it looks like a compact assault vehicle. This image is intensified by the side-facing rear seats that hold three in a 2+1 configuration.—CAS