Young designers dream up the classics of the future
In early June, Michelin announced the winners of its 18th global Challenge Design competition with the theme “Michelin Concours d'Elegance 2050—Future Classic.” This year’s competition challenged participants to design a vehicle for the year 2025 that would become a classic and represented that hugely transitional era in automotive design and technology to win the Michelin Concours d'Elegance in the year 2050.
Works by individuals and teams of designers from Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, China, France, India, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S. were among the winners, finalists, and honorable mentions selected by a distinguished jury of top automotive designers and industry experts.
“Michelin Challenge Design is the most important global design competition for emerging young talent,” said Stewart Reed, Art Center College of Design in California and Michelin Challenge Design jury chairman. “The beautiful thing is that we really engage the global design community. That was once again reflected in the works chosen by our jurors.”
The three winning designs, six finalists, and four honorable mentions were chosen from more than 1000 entrants representing 67 countries. In the past 18 years, Michelin Challenge Design has received more than 13,000 entries from 130 countries.
Representatives from the first-, second-, and third-place winners were invited guests at Movin'On by Michelin, the global sustainable mobility event held in Montreal in May. The winners and their designs were joined by winners from the 17th global competition and recognized during a private reception at the event. Winners participated in a private portfolio review with members of the jury and leading designers and participated in a workshop on sustainable mobility.
"The Michelin Challenge Design competition celebrates innovation in vehicle design. The quality of this year's entries was outstanding," said Ben Ebel, Lead User Experience Designer, Michelin North America and chairman of Michelin Challenge Design. "We congratulate the winners on designing innovative, thought-provoking, futuristic entries that are worthy of winning the Michelin Concours d'Elegance in 2050."
The winning entry, which anticipates the movie “Bond 25” released in 2025, was designed by Georgii Varodi, who is currently studying transportation design at Stieglitz Academy of Art & Design. In his fictional flick, Agent 007 finds himself in Paris and chooses an elite car, called a Bertoni, from luxury French brand DS. In the movie, all future vehicles are autonomous mass products and are controlled by artificial intelligence (AI), which has overtaken the world. Bond needs a brand-new vehicle that is distinctive; it is invisible to AI and is the only one that can be driven manually. The movie breaks all records, and Bond’s car becomes famous overnight.
Varodi of St. Petersburg, Russia, was a Finalist in the BMW Young Designer Awards 2017 and has been mentored by talented designers from Renault, DS brand at Groupe PSA, Volkswagen, and Lada Design Team during curated projects. Apart from transportation design, he studies the arts and illustration. He also works as an artist and it helps him to bring an expanded vision of shapes, proportions, and other aspects into vehicle design industry.
Second place went to the Mystique concept designed by Harsh Panchal of Vadodara, India, an automotive enthusiast and a transportation/industrial designer having a Masters’ degree in Transportation design.
The Mystique is designed as “an elegant and a modern piece of art,” wrote Panchal. “The vehicle is luxurious and makes a perfect combination with opulence, sunlight, and champagne.” The design is described as having “not so advanced tech” and prominent curves, elegant bodywork, and striking use of chrome” to give it a “much more retro rich feel.”
The tech includes an interesting wheel-end concept with an in-wheel central hub electric motor, a silicon polymer tire with “super sticky” properties, a tire skeletal hub, and classic chrome for the rims consisting of blue titanium metal strings, which also act as a tertiary suspension.
The third-place Bugatti Type 2050 SC Atlantic, designed by Boussid Mohammed Ramdane of Oran, Algeria, is intended as a direct descendant of the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic of 1936. In 2025, the concept represents a new vision of the environmentally friendly futuristic car with a retro exterior. Ramdane graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Oran, but he says more self-taught than academic, with a real passion for automotive design.
Among the six second-tier finalists, two entries were notable for their depth of technical detail.
Three designers from Argentina (Guillermo Nicolas Gaudioso, Facundo Castellano Davila, and Lucas Basile of La Plata) went into greater technical depth for their EAL (Exotic, Autonomous, Luxury) concept. Built on a “forged carbon micro particle” frame, its exterior is made of photovoltaic fibers to help recharge the car’s batteries. A laser lighting system illuminates and indicates to pedestrians. The interior is customizable by users, with different details in metals and precious stones. The “first fully autonomous car without a steering wheel,” it also includes a new form of entertainment thanks to its virtual/augmented reality system.
The Ferrari Gothica Rossa 2025 Electric Hypercar Concept from Dong Hun Han, a 24-year-old Korean student majoring in automotive design at Korea National University of Arts, gave his modern take on the late 1960s Ferrari 512S Speciale concept car—the futuristic low-profile supercar concept that influenced the later designs of Bertone’s Lancia Stratos Zero and Italdesign Maserati Boomerang concept. The Gothica Rossa concept is designed to use a groundbreaking tubular three-part frame/chassis architecture for the main body inspired by Gothic architecture. Said to be more advanced than today’s spaceframes.
Another finalist design from Oto Arantes of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was another Bugatti interpretation called QuarantONE. This concept is a reinterpretation of the 1932 Type 41, with a production run of only 6 units to ensure ultimate exclusivity—just like the original. As the 1932 model displayed its driver outside the cabin, the Arantes concept is meant to display its autonomous capabilities and electric powertrain with a thinner front end with few air entrances for better aerodynamics. The long front fender and hood emphasize the car’s oversize dimensions: 7150 mm (281.5 in) length, 2150 mm (84.6 in) width, and 1570 mm (61.8 in) height on a 4600-mm (181.1-in) wheelbase.
The Noah, by Tao Ni, Hua Chen, Yong Ni, Rui Xiong, and Yuan Tian of Ether Design Lab in China, was designed with Internet of Things and shared economy concepts in mind. It combines the designs of furniture with vehicles in the shape of a car with attributes of home. It is intended to create a unique travel experience with quiet energy for an electric future.
Maria Rydno, currently studying at the Stieglitz Academy of Art and Design, designed her Chanel entry with an eye toward fashion design. Rydno got inspiration from Charles Frederick Worth, the French fashion designer of the 19th century called by some the father of haute couture. In 2025, a show dedicated to the bicentenary of his birth of Worth had the Rydno car designed to embody Coco Chanel’s elegance, minimalism, and straight forms.
Finally, the Aston Martin E-GO—designed by Emilie Sicot, Guillaume Mazerolle, and Alexis Nguyen who are studying transportation design at Strate School of Design, in Paris—was inspired by the growth of social media in everyday life. The team imagined a car that could maximize the number of likes and followers by posting to the brand’s media and on the driver’s personal account for short-duration rentals. Drones in the hood allow live filming of the car and its environment.