WardsAuto Names 2016 Student Design Finalists

The student projects will be on display at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference May 11 at the new Cobo Center ballroom in Detroit.

April 19, 2016

3 Min Read
Takashi Kumamoto won kudos for finely rendered Lexus design featuring an instrument panel and cluster with holographic instrumentation and gauges
Takashi Kumamoto won kudos for finely rendered Lexus design featuring an instrument panel and cluster with holographic instrumentation and gauges.Tom Murphy

DETROIT – Imagine a sports car capable of autonomous driving. Is that an oxymoron? A quick look at the stunning results of the latest WardsAuto/College for Creative Studies student design competition shows sports cars and autonomy are not mutually exclusive terms.

The senior class of students thought of numerous ways to make time in autonomous mode exciting, including using gaming and simulator technology to allow drivers and passengers to race each other in virtual reality even when they actually are stuck in traffic.

Encouraging this kind of out-of-the-box thinking is what led WardsAuto to craft the assignment for this latest project:  A vehicle interior for a sports car that is distinctive, fun to drive on the track or open road, but also has autonomous capabilities for city commuting. Approximate production date: 2030.

The competition is sponsored by interior suppliers IAC and Lear, and it is WardsAuto’s seventh collaboration with Detroit’s prestigious CCS, which has graduated many of the auto industry’s top designers.

The finished projects were judged by a panel of esteemed industry designers: Robert Walker, chief interior designer for Lincoln Motor Co.; Ariel Choi, lead designer at Toyota’s Calty Design Research; Chris Hilts, global director of design UEX at General Motors and Ryan P. Joyce, FCA interior design manager for the Jeep brand.

The class started in January, when students visited the North American International Auto Show with Brian Stoeckel, the class instructor. Stoeckel, who is a designer at General Motors, asked the students to look at today’s sports cars that have strong brands and distinctive personalities for inspiration, from Chevy Corvettes and Ford Mustangs to Maseratis and BMWs.

The students then worked through March developing and refining their concepts, with WardsAuto stopping by several times to check on their progress.

At the end of March, the judges picked five finalists:  

  • Takashi Kumamoto won kudos for a finely rendered Lexus design featuring an instrument panel and cluster with holographic instrumentation and gauges.

  • Niko Pesa made the cut with a visually stunning Maserati interior with bioluminescent surfaces and a holographic gauge cluster.

  • Young-Joon Suh impressed the judges with a meticulously detailed design featuring an onboard virtual-reality simulator that delivers non-stop racing thrills even when the car is parked.

  • Josh (Gwon Young) Kim stood out with a beautifully drawn Bugatti concept built around an innovative center console made from wispy but super-strong touch-sensitive textiles.

  • Enzo (Enze) Zheng got the judges’ attention with an interior that dramatically reconfigures itself according to driving mode and has a virtual-reality center console that creates machine intelligence by monitoring driver biometrics and brain waves.

The student projects will be on display at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference May 11 at the Cobo Conference Center in Detroit. The grand prize winner will be announced during the conference, along with the recipients of special awards from IAC and Lear.

The Lear Innovation Award is given to the student whose work includes specific design or technical innovation the judges deem particularly inspired and forward-thinking.

The IAC EcoBlend Award will go to the student whose design or concept best embraces green mobility or uses lightweight renewable/recyclable materials and other Earth-friendly innovations. For more information, click here.

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