Nanotechnology, cars that eventually become palm trees, a bio-diesel vehicle that recycles itself--these are the lines along which the bright young things in Californian car styling studios are thinking. With so many makers having design facilities on the west coast, the LA Auto Show has used this situation to its advantage by running a competition each year for the most exciting new concept. This year's entrants included Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Mini and Audi.

Other makes like Acura and Toyota have also taken part. Even Hummer has a fuel-cell concept that uses an algae-filled body to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Pang of conscience there?

Chances are, not many of these ideas will make it into the mainstream, but by embracing new and sustainable technologies and thinking laterally, cars of the future should still be interesting.

It's perhaps no surprise that Audi has taken its space frame philosophies (seen in the first-ever A8) and run with them to come up with the Dynamic Space Frame.

The frame integrates all fluid and electrical channels within it. The car will use a hydraulic fluid drive instead of the traditional propshaft and electric currents will interact with a fluid-based suspension to control the ride. Who knows? This could form the basis of the fifth-generation TT.

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