Lexus creative competition with students from the RCA.
The winner: Richard Newman, Alto © Richard Newman / Lexus / Royal College of Art

In order to be inspired by fresh ideas and to bring inspiration into the company, many car manufacturers run creative competitions among students together with art, design or architecture colleges. Design work has just been presented that was created as part of a competition sponsored by the premium car brand Lexus. For this, postgraduates from the Royal College of Art (RCA) Intelligent Mobility MA course at the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre developed novel concepts for luxury vehicles as part of the creative programme “Lexus 2040: The Soul of Future Premium”. Visions include cars that change colour with the seasons, personalised vehicles that dock with buildings, and pods that can connect with other vehicles to form an urban swarm. The challenge was to explore new vehicle architectures that address changes in urban life, demographics and society, and to imagine the role the Lexus brand could play in the mobility landscape over the next two decades.

Six finalists presented their concepts: With “In-season”, Bangning An, based on the Japanese motto “ichi-go, ichi-e”, which translates as “one time, one encounter”, had developed a vision of future luxury mobility tailored to the season. To help Generation Z rediscover the seasonal changes in cities, the vehicle’s intelligent roof controls the intensity of daylight entering the interior. Benjamin Miller’s “Crucible” is a hydrogen-powered vehicle that can be divided into different elements depending on its use, such as separating the personal luxury cabin from the technology. The interior can be adapted to any configuration and even integrated into one’s own house. Richard Newman’s “Alto”, a “Vertical Take-off and Landing” vehicle, or VTOL for short, looks spectacular. The hydrogen-powered air vehicle, a cross between a plant terrarium and a hot-air balloon, is supposed to hang in the sky like a cloud earring. Maxime Gauthier’s “Lexus UrbanSwarm” combines the flexibility and comfort of micromobility with the efficiency of mass transport systems to ensure better traffic flow, while adding a touch of luxury to urban mobility. “Lexus Neko” by Jan Niehues is a micromobility concept that functions as a vehicle in conventional mode; meanwhile, in sharing mode, occupants are supposed to be able to view landscapes recorded on previous journeys to have an Instagram experience on a grand scale. Last but not least, “Lexus #Units” by Zhenyu Kong, in the context of digital personalisation as a future social space, not only extends the connection between individuals and groups, but also meets Generation Alpha’s desire for diversity in self-expression and uses the popularity of social media to share opinions and emotions.

The competition was won by Richard Newman with his concept “Alto”, a personal flying machine that, according to the jury, was more reminiscent of the year 2050 than 2040, but nevertheless embodied the future-oriented spirit of the company.


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