Mazda's entry in the LA Design Challenge for 2030 imagines a world of 'micro manufacturing' and small-volume, highly customised products. Taking the idea of car configurators to the next level a virtual reality 'VMazda.com' web site (it doesn't exist, we looked) would allow customers to collaborate and experiment in designing their ideal car. Once designed, the car can be built quickly at a nearby flexible manufacturing plant.
The Souga has been designed for and by Max, an imaginary, young entrepreneur. It is a compact two-seater with mesh-like bodywork based around standardised electric-vehicle components. The materials used to make the car are 'sustainable' and the mesh-like body is translucent for good visibility. Not only is the manufacturing based on a new idea but the way cars are purchased will change. The manufacturing techniques apparently will bring down the cost of purchase to about £1,200 at today's prices but with a two-year contract and monthly billing for the energy used by the car. After two years the car is returned to the factory and can be reconfigured in accordance with any change in the customer's needs. In line with the sustainable ethos all materials can be recycled.
Interestingly, Mazda imagines that entertainment and communication devices will become integrated into clothing and fashion accessories - meaning they can be removed from vehicles. This leaves the car of the future free to offer 'pure and driver focussed' controls.
John Lambert - 11 Nov 2009