Imagining what automotive interiors will look like in 2025 is no easy task, but WardsAuto will give a sneak peek next week at the SAE World Congress in Detroit.

Visualizing the future is what the WardsAuto Interiors Student Design Competition is all about. Talented young designers from around the globe turn their imaginations loose to create ideas that push the envelope but still keep in mind real-world constraints such as cost and safety.

For the fourth year, WardsAuto is partnering with interior suppliers International Automotive Components and Lear to sponsor the design competition with students from the Transportation Design Department of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

This year, students are challenged to create a contemporary family sedan for 2025 that offers all the amenities of a minivan in a smaller, more fuel-efficient package. The typical customer is a family of five with three young children that is looking for an affordable, kid-friendly sedan.

Instructor Joann Jung, whose day job is managing global interior design strategy at Ford, is guiding the students and helping them keep their projects within agreed-upon boundaries.

The design brief calls on students to base their projects on a model from WardsAuto’s Upper Middle Car segment, evolved forward to 2025. This category is defined as having four or five doors, 185 ins. to 200 ins.  (4699 mm to 5080 mm) long, with a base price of $21,501 to $32,000 in 2012 dollars.

The cars currently in this segment include the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and 14 other models.

The student projects will be on display at the SAE World Congress April 16-18 at Cobo Center in Detroit in the WardsAuto booth, M-1307.  Finalists in the competition will be announced during a ceremony at the booth April 17 at 4:30 pm.

Finalists will be honored at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference on May 22 at The Henry hotel in Dearborn, MI, where the grand prize winner will be revealed, along with the recipients of special awards from IAC and Lear.

The Lear Innovation Award is given to the student whose work includes specific design or technical innovation the judges deem particularly inspired and forward-thinking.

The IAC EcoBlend Award will go to the student whose design or concept best embraces green mobility or uses lightweight renewable/recyclable materials and other Earth-friendly innovations.

dwinter@wardsauto.com