SOUTHFIELD — Small is in, according to global automotive design trends. However, Americans continue to love their trucks, SUVs, minivans and other larger vehicles that promise flexibility that many small modern vehicles can’t yet deliver.

This was the challenge posted to a group of seniors at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The students were tasked with marrying the best of a small vehicle (environmentally friendly and well suited to life in crowded cities) with the best of alarge vehicle (space for friends and family, and multi-purpose capabilities) in a way that buyers will embrace by year 2025.

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The work was done for WardsAuto’s third annual Student Design Competition, sponsored by International Automotive Components and Lear Corp., with support from SAE International.

All design entries will be on display at the SAE World Congress (April 24-26, Cobo Center, Detroit) in Ward’s booth M-1319. Finalists will be unveiled during a ceremony at the Ward’s booth on Wednesday, April 25 at 4:30 pm. The finalists will then be honored at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference (May 17, The Henry Hotel, Dearborn), where the grand prize winner will be announced, along with recipients of special awards from IAC and Lear.

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The Lear Innovation Award will be bestowed upon the student whose work includes a specific design or technological innovation the judges deem particularly creative and forward-thinking. The IAC EcoBlend Award will go to the student whose design or concept best embraces green mobility or utilizes lightweight renewable and recyclable materials and other Earth-friendly innovations.

“This competition is so refreshing for us and our readers,” says Drew Winter, editor-in-chief of WardsAuto World.  “The world’s auto makers have come a long way in making the vehicle interior a priority, but it’s vital that new ideas are sought and embraced. The students who design for this competition are displaying pure creativity, and while these may not be production-ready concepts, they deliver a wealth of ideas on how auto makers can appeal to a new generation of car buyers.”

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The student entries can be seen at Finalists will be posted to the site following the April 25 unveiling, and the winners will be celebrated online following the May 17 WardsAuto Interiors Conference.