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For the 7th annual Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge, contestants (aka design studios) have been asked to envision "a 1,000 lb (454 kg) four-passenger vehicle that is both comfortable and safe, while delivering satisfactory driving performance without sacrificing the styling consumers demand." While this is no easy task, designers quickly responded with a variety of concepts.

The Cadillac Aera (Aero + Era) is a futuristic 2+2 coupe which has a 1,000 mile range thanks to alternative fuel. It boasts an advanced body structure which "utilizes a polyhedral, 3D lattice, mono-formed frame with a flexible pressurized polymer skin for body panels and glass."

If that sounds a little complicated, the Honda Air takes a simpler approach with a roller coaster-inspired design and a compressed air engine.

Likewise, Mazda's MX-0 is based around MX-5 components but "a multitude of parts have been replaced with fewer, simplified ones, using innovative lightweight materials."

The Nissan iV, on the other hand, boasts a biopolymer frame which is made of fast-growing ivy and a spider silk composite.

Continuing that theme, the NORI by Calty Design Research foresees a world where seaweed and carbon fiber can combine to create a singular PODULAR form.

The sensible Swedish brand Volvo has conjured up the Air Motion which boasts a compressed air motor, an open cockpit, and a unique front to back seating arrangement.  The Air Motion comes from the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center (VMCC) in California.

Mercedes decided to introduce three entries: the Smart 454, the Biome, and the Maybach DRS. The latter hails from their Japanese studio and looks like an egg on wheels. For the Biome, designers envisioned a world where "each vehicle is grown from two seeds. One seed, the front star, grows the interior of the vehicle from Mercedes-Benz DNA, while the seed capsule creates the vehicles exterior." Lastly, the Smart 454 is knitted by "incredibly high tech robots that look as friendly and cuddly as our grandmothers."

The winner will be announced on November 18th, so stay tuned for continuing coverage.

Gallery: LA Auto Show Design Challenge envisions the 1000 lb. car

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