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The biggest hybrid and electric car company you've never heard of has put down a beachhead in Los Angeles. As the LA Auto Show opens, we hear from Art Center's Geoff Wardle and Chao Feng, about Build Your Dreams – BYD -- and the exploding Chinese car industry. Plus, are you ready to have your car parked by a robot? Randall Miller and Woody Nash talk about the automated parking systems that are coming to LA.

Banner image: Chao Feng sands his concept car at Art Center College of Design

Guest Interview Will China Define the Cars of This Century? 16 MIN, 53 SEC

20 years ago, almost nobody drove a car in China. Now it is the world’s biggest car market, and is turning itself into the biggest manufacturer of homespun cars. Build Your Dreams is a China-U.S. company that started life a few years ago as a manufacturer of batteries, for cell phones and flashlights, and then for cars. You won’t find its electric E6 at your local showroom; instead BYD will sell its cars and shuttle buses in fleets to companies like Hertz where they can install their charging stations. Eventually, the company may manufacture cars and batteries in the U.S. but meanwhile has opened an office of around 20 people in downtown Los Angeles. As director of Advanced Mobility Research at Art Center College Of Design in Pasadena, Geoff Wardle has been tracking the Chinese car industry. He explains that even though China is quickly acquiring technology, to get design savvy they still have to venture overseas. China’s future auto industry is actually being shaped in Art Center's transportation design studio. Frances speaks with Chao Feng, a 26-year-old Beijing native and the first student from Mainland China to attend Art Center's Department of Automotive Design. He explains how China became so car-crazed and why some Chinese schools are now starting their own auto design departments.


Build Your Dreams EBus concept being used in a Hertz fleet


An Acura concept car that Chao Feng is designing at Art Center's transportation design department


Sketches and models for a car concept Chao Feng was asked to design for the Chinese government


The car Feng designed was inspired by the yin yang symbol, prevalent in Chinese culture

Geoff Wardle, ArtCenter College of Design (@artcenteredu)
Chao Feng, Student, Art Center College of Design

Guest Interview The Robot Will Park Your Car Now 12 MIN, 9 SEC

Central to living and driving in Los Angeles is the multi-level parking structure—concrete, subterranean labyrinths which are disquieting to be alone in, not to mention confusing when you forget where you’ve parked your car. Now an additional kind of parking experience is coming to LA: Automated parking garages that stack cars into elevator-like cubbies. Frances ventures to the 16th Street UCLA Outpatient Services Building in Santa Monica where Randall Miller of the development firm The Nautilus Group demonstrates its new robotic parking structure, which opens next month. As cities run low on real estate, the popularity of these systems have grown. Woody Nash from Boomerang Systems, Inc. explains how his team used car factory technology to design its solution, which can store twice the number of cars in half the amount of space.

Exterior parking garage

The exterior of the garage for the 16th Street UCLA Outpatient Services Building in Santa Monica, designed by Michael Folonis Architects

Car arrives

The car arrives at the parking garage

Parking bay

The car pulls into a parking bay

Parking platform

Parking platforms allow cars to be moved between floors

Inside robot garage

Inside the robotic garage

Boomerang 3

Boomerang System's parking garage

Boomerang 4

Inside a Boomerang Systems parking bay

Boomerang 2

Cars are moved laterally in the garage


The garage can store twice the amount of cars

This video by Boomerang Systems demonstrates how "robot valets" can park cars more efficiently than human drivers

Randall Miller, President, Nautilus Group
Woody Nash, Global Director of Business Development, Boomerang Systems, Inc.


Frances Anderton

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