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Green with envy

The golf cart hasn't changed much in recent years, but a new futuristic cart concept by Mercedes-Benz dramatically reimagines the vehicle as a sleek, egg-shaped cruiser that's fully loaded with jaw-dropping tech.

The concept emerged from an international competition sponsored by Mercedes-Benz earlier this year. After a jury trimmed down the plethora of submissions, the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center in Carlsbad, Calif., took the most common and compelling ideas and created the Mercedes-Benz Vision Golf Cart.

Mercedes-Benz retains the spirit of the golf cart by keeping it electric, but with a twist: a sexy flexible-solar-panel roof keeps the battery topped off. Don't worry, you could still charge it manually, too. Click through the images to learn more about the other exciting elements integrated into a golf cart fit for the 22nd century.

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Doors optional

You might notice that the cart doors aren't visible in this photo. The Mercedes-Benz Vision Golf Cart concept calls for optional lightweight doors, which the owner can easily click into place if needed. If glaring lights start getting annoying, the massive windshield can darken at the touch of a button. The glass also has a rain sensor built in that automatically activates the wipers.

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The back 9

Rivaling the design of most cars, the exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Vision Cart would come standard with modern amenities such as LED taillights. The concept includes turn signals and LED headlights, which come with a floodlight function so golfers can keep swinging in the dark. A retractable lightning rod keeps any random zappings out of play.

Storage is key with the Mercedes-Benz concept cart. The trunk can hold two full golf bags, there are two dashboard compartments, and the center console holds balls, score cards, and sunglasses.

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If you're a kinesthetic learner, you could easily burn an hour or two messing with all of the features packed into the Mercedes-Benz Vision Cart. Fortunately, navigating around seems simple enough, as a joystick in the center console lets the driver or passenger control the vehicle. It's like a video game!

"Using touch-screen monitors, virtually all aspects of the cart can be controlled without extra buttons," says Margarete Wies, head of the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center in Carlsbad, Calif. "Simplicity is the key. Intuition and pure form can maybe best describe the cart."

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Powered by the sun

When the vehicle is stationary, a projected display can appear on the windshield and deliver visuals of the course layout and weather. A built-in rotatable iPhone/iPad (as well as standard USB) docking station and associated app let you access the air-conditioning system (yep, it has that, too); speakers for music playback; or a direct link to the clubhouse to order drinks and food. Bluetooth functionality lets you make calls over the speaker system.

And don't worry about your makeup or hair, as an illuminated vanity mirror helps you look your best.

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Spare no expense

If you thought Mercedes-Benz couldn't pack anything else into a golf cart, you're mistaken. Need that beer to stay chilled? Below the center console, an integrated refrigerator can hold reserves, while the cup holders offer the ability to directly cool (or heat) beverages. Of course, after you've had a few drinks, it's tough work to yell out "Fore!" But Mercedes-Benz has you covered, as a dedicated button emits a warning signal and notifies other connected golf carts to send a signal, too.

Staying cool (or warm) inside the Mercedes-Benz Vision Cart is a breeze. Aside from the integrated heated/cooled seats, the cart also offers the Airscarf neck-level heating system (first introduced with the 2011 SLK Roadster) that can direct warm air to the neck and shoulders for carefree driving in colder weather.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Video screenshot by Christopher Macmanus/CNET
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