Adding to this year's Christmas cheer, Germany's Spiegel magazine has asked eight top automakers to envision a new design for Santa's sleigh. Under the subtitle "Santa's faster, finer and more eco-conscious ride," all of the car designers did away with reindeer as the motive force. Perhaps in the wake of a new study suggesting airplane contrails contribute substantially to arctic warming, concern about methane-belching reindeer is merited. At any rate, the challenge resulted in some festive seasonal images...and perhaps an insight into which manufacturers are serious about protecting the environment.Spiegel International shares a photo gallery of options ranging from the prosaic to the poetic. On the less imaginative end of the spectrum, BMW offers a Mini convertible ( a 118-horse open sleigh?) and Porsche sketched some skis onto a Panamera. Mazda got creative, contributing the cleverly named MX-mas and putting Captain Kirk's ride to shame. The Mercedes appears eco-friendly only if you posit some Christmas suspension of disbelief, but we share their image here because we love the fact that Santa did not give up his patented red-nose guidance system for built-in GPS.
But here is what caught our holiday hopes: the proposals from Ford and Volkswagen suggest these companies are more serious than the others about designing small, efficient transportation. If Santa selects the Ford, he may need a fleet of them, or some of his patented Santa-magic, to fit all the presents on board. Maybe all the girls and boys could make do with a little less stuff?
Volkswagen's entry resembles the amazing 1L 1-liter car, designed to cover 282 miles on a single gallon of petroleum distillate. Available only in a limited edition, Santa can consider himself lucky to get one.
Maybe next year, Spiegel could turn the challenge around: can the automakers of Europe design cars that can deliver a sleigh full of toys for all the girls and boys at a lower ecological cost than keeping a herd of reindeer fit for the task?
More Transportation for Santa's Consideration:
Best and Worst of 2009: Bikes, Planes, Trains, and Boats
Best and Worst of 2009: The Year in Cars (Slideshow)
How to Go Green: Cars
Are You Green Car Savvy?
Aircraft Vapor Trails Responsible for 15-20% of Arctic Warming