Infiniti Le Mans 2030 self-driving concept wins 2017 Michelin Challenge Design contest

Article by Christian A., on October 25, 2016

Infiniti Le Mans 2030 Concept envisions autonomous night driving during the 24-hour race. Realistically, Le Mans could be considered as the hardest race for specialty race vehicles and production race vehicles. Quite a number of brands have boosted their image as well as credibility by taking part in this 24-hour event. As such, many car designers consider Le Mans as one of the world’s most open and relevant racing events in the world.

Thus, the theme for 2017 Michelin Challenge Design was “Le Mans 2030: Design For The Win.” This competition was conducted in collaboration with the Automobile Club l’Ouest (ACO), organizers of the Le Mans 24 Hour race. This year’s competition allows designers to present their vision of the future.

After a strenuous selection process, the jury for the 2017 Michelin Challenge Design picked the design entered by Tao Ni of Wuhu, China -- the “Infiniti Le Mans 2030.”

The Infiniti Le Mans 2030 concept is a futuristic Infiniti race car that is not only faster, but also safer than current Le Man’s prototypes. As envisioned, the Infiniti Le Mans 2030 concept would be driven by a human pilot during the day part of the race. When the night falls, the concept’s autonomous driving capability should allow it to continue the race. This means, that Infiniti’s Le Mans drivers would suffer less fatigue during the race. In addition, the race itself would be much safer, if the carmaker’s autonomous systems are already advanced enough to push through such a competitive event.

In terms of design, the Infiniti Le Mans 2030 concept looks more advanced than any race car of the present. Its aerodynamic bodywork completely covers all four wheels, with advanced air tunnels placed under its skin for more downforce. In addition, the Infiniti Le Mans 2030 concept features several wings, fins and air intakes.

Tao Ni, designer of the Infiniti Le Mans 2030 concept, earned his bachelor degree in industrial design from Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in 2013. He became an intern and a designer at Volvo Group Shanghai Design Center. Tao Ni then studied vehicle design at the Royal College of Art in London and earned a masters degree in July 2016.

Tao believes that technology is an extension of human abilities. He also believes that human, machine and computer should work and support each other.

The 2017 Michelin Challenge Design had 1,600 registrants from 80 countries. Three winning designs, seven finalists and 10 honorable mentions from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, India, Portugal and Russia were picked by a jury of top auto designers and industry experts in the world. First place was awarded to Tao Ni, and was followed by Daniel Bacelar Pereira of Vila Real, Portugal (Bentley 9 Plus Michelin Battery Slick). Third place went to Kurt Scanlan of Toronto, Canada (Cierzo C1).

Press Release

Michelin Announces Winners Of 'Le Mans 2030' Global Design Competition

In collaboration with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, Michelin today announced the winners of the global 2017 Michelin Challenge Design, "Le Mans 2030: Design for the Win."

Works by individuals and teams of designers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, India, Portugal and Russia were among the winners and finalists selected by a distinguished jury of the world's top automotive designers and industry experts.

The three winning designs, seven finalists and 10 honorable mentions were chosen from more than 1,600 registrants representing 80 countries. Over 16 years, Michelin Challenge Design has received a total of 9,901 entries from 123 countries.

"The winners of our 2017 Michelin Challenge Design presented numerous highly innovative features for the Le Mans race in the year 2030 and the quality of work from this year's entries was truly outstanding," said Thom Roach, vice president of original-equipment marketing for Michelin North America. "We congratulate the winners for their thought-provoking, visually captivating designs for the world's greatest endurance race, Le Mans 24 Hours."

Winners of the 2017 Michelin Challenge Design:

First place: Tao Ni of Wuhu, China, for design entry "Infiniti Le Mans 2030"
Second place: Daniel Bacelar Pereira of Vila Real, Portugal, for "Bentley 9 Plus Michelin Battery Slick"
Third place: Kurt Scanlan of Toronto, Canada for "Cierzo C1"
Finalists of the 2017 Michelin Challenge Design (in alphabetical order):

Mehdi Alamdari and Vahid Shahvirdi of Victoria, Australia, for design entry "Audi R28"
Carlos Eduardo de Carvalho of Sao Paulo, Brazil, for "Embraer P1 Phenom Hybrid with Michelin Tire Wings"
Josh Gadomski of Caledon Village, Ontario, Canada, for "Hydracross"
Guilherme Kataoka, Luiz Ortega and Marcelo Toledo of Sao Paulo, Brazil for "Bentley Speed X"
Vruttant S. Phatak of Maharashtra, India, for "Neuraura"
Vladislav Semenov and Maria Ryadno of St. Petersburg, Russia, for "Bugatti Wimille"
David Voltner of Zlin, Czech Republic, for "Citroën C030 LMP1"
"The Le Mans 24 Hours race has always been the theater of the greatest innovations for the motor car that are tried and tested during the mythical race for series production vehicles. The Michelin Challenge Design fits perfectly into our ongoing innovative process with Michelin, one of the Le Mans 24 Hours' historic partners," said Pierre Fillon, president of Automobile Club de l'Ouest. "I can understand how difficult it was for the judges to decide among the candidates given the quality of work sent in for the competition, which aims to predict what kind of car will race in the 2030 Le Mans 24 Hours."

Juror Comments

"The quality of work is clearly at another level since I was a juror a couple of years ago. The world is watching this competition." – Chris Chapman, Hyundai America Technical Center

"I am very surprised by the quality of the work. The average level is so incredibly high for the number of people." – Joji Nagashima, BMW Groupe Design

"There is a phenomenal array of creativity on display. The quality level, the thought, the understanding and the interpretation of the technology and how that folds into the aesthetics from a design perspective from all over the world is what Le Mans is all about." – Tom Peters, General Motors Corporation

"(My) first time on the jury, and it's quite amazing…a super high level of talent, so I'm really impressed with that. There were 40-50 really, really amazing proposals with a very high level of professionalism, creativity and thinking." – Gilles Vidal, PSA Peugeot Citroën

"Many of the designs took on a holistic approach. From the cars to the racing suits to how the cars pit and the graphics that were included. They told a story. It wasn't just about the race car." – Craig Metros, Ford Motor Company

"I will tell you it's impressive. Massive jobs they've done and it was impressive. The subject is difficult. I'm quite surprised at the level some of them are really reconsidering the full race. It's ambitious." – Bertrand Barre, Groupe Zebra

"Michelin Challenge Design is an insight into what the landscape of the world is towards some specific automotive related subject. Many of these designs showed how you could improve the brand of racing and look for alternative ways. Part of the spirit of competition is the human aspect. The enjoyment of driving will never go away." – Dave Marek, Honda R&D Americans, Inc.

"What I like about these entries is they didn't tell a long story. They let the images tell the story." – Richard Plavetich, Nissan Design America

"We as jurors all agree that this year's entrants were the highest quality and the most exciting ever. We were looking for something super creative and artful and at the same time something that would draw in new science that would be relevant for future car development. Whether that science is about new materials, chassis dynamics, new powertrains, light weight structures or aerodynamics, we saw lots of solutions that touched all of those topics." – Stewart Reed, Jury Chairman & Art Center College of Design

In recognition of the exceptionally high number of outstanding design entries, the jury chose to recognize the following 10 entries as worthy of Honorable Mentions in the 2017 Michelin Challenge Design (in alphabetical order):

Samuel Marquez Arango of Torino, Italy, for "Bugatti Benoist"
Martin Chatelier of Hauts-de-Seine, France, for "Mercedes Benz Design to Win"
Jeroen Claus and Fabian Brees of Antwerp, Belgium, for "Tesla LMPE"
Andhika Dimas Dwiputra and Freksa Arista Ihsan of Bekasi, Indonesia, for "Audi Ayrus"
Po-Sen Huang and Po-Yuan Huang of New Taipei City, Taiwan, for "TOKON"
Minwoo Jeon and Donghun Nam of Seoul, South Korea, for "ConverT"
Nicolas Francisco Loyola of Torino, Italy, for "Faraday Future Singularity"
Miguel Ferreira Rodrigues of Coimbra, Portugal, for "NEO"
Chirayu Shinde of Maharashtra, India, for "Renault Sun Run"
Emre M. Yazici of Ankara, Turkey, for "Appleone"
Images of the winning entries are available at www.michelinchallengedesign.com and jury panel video can be viewed HERE.

The first, second and third place winners will be invited to attend the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) as guests of Michelin and will be recognized during Michelin's annual private Designer's Reception, where they will participate in a private portfolio review with members of the jury.

The first-place winner will be recognized at the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours race. All members of each winning team and finalist category are invited to join an exclusive online community restricted to Michelin Challenge Design winners and jurors.

2017 Michelin Challenge Design Jury:

Stewart Reed: Chair, Transportation Design Department, Art Center College of Design, Consultant and Jury Chairman, Michelin Challenge Design
Bertrand Barre: President & Co-Founder, Groupe Zebra
Chris Chapman: Chief Designer, Hyundai America Technical Center
Dave Marek: Acura Global Creative Director, Honda R&D Americas, Inc.
Craig Metros: Design Director, North American Exterior, Ford Motor Company
Damien Michelin, Honorary Juror, Michelin North America
Joji Nagashima: Creative Director, Concept Cars, BMW Groupe Design
Thomas Peters: Director of Design, General Motors Corporation
Richard Plavetich: General Manager, Design Business, Nissan Design America
Gilles Vidal: Director of Design, PSA Peugeot Citroën

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