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Photos: 2008 Los Angeles Design Challenge

What will race cars look like in 2025? The Los Angeles Auto Show, in its fifth annual Design Challenge, posed this question to automakers' design studios. Entrants from Audi, BMW, GM, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Volkswagen show off differing takes of what will be required for future racetracks.

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Wayne Cunningham
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Audi R25

Audi's success in the current Le Mans series prompted it to envision continued success, with the R25 designed for the 2025 American Le Mans series. Audi designers envision Speed Racer-like tracks featuring vertical banks and tubes, and so made the R25 capable of handling inverted driving.
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BMW Salt Flat Racer

BMW's hydrogen-powered Salt Flat Racer hints at doom and gloom in the BMW design studio, where cars are assembled out of old oil drums and other cast-off items. Lack of petroleum means asphalt is a thing of the past, so open-wheel racers compete on the salt flats, burning hydrogen for go-juice.
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GM Chaparral Volt

GM designers see a future in the Volt model name, extending out to the 2025 LA Times Grand Prix. In this future racing scenario, the Chaparral Volt never needs to stop for fuel, generating its own drive energy from sun, wind, and regenerative braking. The race is more about eco-rallying than speed.
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Honda: The Great Race 2025

Honda designers imagine a race around the world in just 24 hours, with contestants covering the United States by land, Asia by sea, and Europe by air. In true Japanese fashion, Honda's racer configures itself for driving, flying, and floating.
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Honda: The Great Race 2025

Here we see the Honda racer in boat configuration, making its way around Asia.
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Honda: The Great Race 2025

For the European segment of the race, the Honda racer takes to the skies.
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Mazda Kaan

For Mazda, electrification is the future, with the Kaan competing in E1 races, we assume the successor to F1 racing. The car gets its energy from an electrified track surface. Racing teams consist of 30 cars, using relative positioning to draft each other, similar to bicycle racing teams. As we can see from the image, MazdaSpeed tuning is still around.
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Mercedes-Benz Formula Zero

Mercedes-Benz is still the brand for the yachting type in 2025. In its future racing scenario, cars are allotted a set amount of stored energy at the start. The Formula Zero uses its solar skin to add power to in-wheel electric motors, while the sail gives additional thrust.
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Mitsubishi MMR25

The driver sees out of the enclosed cockpit of Mitsubishi's MMR25 through video panels fed by cameras. This 8 by 4 has omnidirectional wheels with eight independently controlled motors, letting the car drive in any direction, no matter which way the body is pointing.
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Mitsubishi MMR25

Mitsubishi, with its World Rally Car history, also provided this image of the MMR25 barreling around a dirt corner, its body already set for the following straightaway.
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Toyota Lemans Racer

Toyota designed this endurance racer to get energy for its electric motors from fuel cells and solar panels. Just like in Star Wars, the car gets a robot co-pilot that can perform vehicle repairs underway. In high-speed mode, the car becomes narrower reducing wind resistance. In preparation for cornering it can get wider.
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Volkswagen Bio Runner

Red Bull apparently sponsors VW for the 2025 Baja 1000. The Bio Runner competes in the special one driver one tank class, where cars are limited to a single 10 gallon tank of fuel. Twin turbine spinning at 500,000rpm make the car go, sipping jet fuel for the 1,000 miles of the course.

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