Remember the time-travelling DeLorean DMC-12 that featured in the Back to the Future movies?
Well, imagine it's just pulled up in your driveway and the film's wild-haired scientist, Emmett Brown, has offered to take you on a trip 21 years into the future.
You step inside and with a snap of the gullwing doors and a surge of the flux capacitor you arrive in the year 2030. What do the streets and cars look like? What are young people now driving?
Some of the world's top automotive designers have tried to answer those very questions (without the use of a time machine) and have come up with some seriously out-there answers.
The LA Auto Show, which this year is being held from December 4, features an annual design challenge in which leading brands are asked to submit visions for how the vehicles of the future will look.
This year the American design divisions of companies including General Motors, Toyota and Nissan were given the theme Youthmobile and asked to create renderings of vehicles that young people would be driving 21 years from now.
At the outset they were reminded of the key role cars played in young people's lives today and were likely to play in 2030. Vehicles provide freedom and the ability to socialise and they're also an important means of self-expression.
The designers were asked to consider the impact growing up with mobile phones, online communities and webcams would have on consumers two decades from now.
"Automotive designers have always been fascinated with the next generation of drivers," the director of the Design Los Angeles segment of the motor show, Chuck Pelly, says.
"This year's design challenge has provided them with the opportunity to use their creative talents to revisit the concept of 'the car' with new eyes, using the hottest technologies to both explore and fulfil the needs of young people."
The submissions from the brands varied widely, although there were common themes. Electric vehicles, cars that were able to morph their shape and cars that leant themselves to clever youth marketing were recurrent motifs.
So too were vehicles that allowed connectivity to social networking sites. A winner will be picked by a panel of experts during the show and while it's unlikely any will ever go into production, they at least show where designers believe we're heading.
So what did the individual companies pitch? Honda sees increased interaction between cars and humans in 2030.
"Emerging technologies, such as genetic integration and advanced adaptive polymers, will shatter the current paradigm of what is now considered 'personally' unique," it says in its pitch.
The company proposes shape-shifting vehicles that could modify their size and wheelbase depending on the constraints of the environment around them.
Nissan sees a rosy 2030 in which electricity has replaced petrol as the main propellant for cars and US highways have been electrified to create an ultra-efficient, high-speed network called the GRID.
The company's electric offering is the crab-like V2G and it suggests consumers would be able to buy access to the electricity grid in the same way they subscribe to mobile phone plans.
General Motors sees a blurring of the lines between gaming, learning to drive and driving. It proposes cars that could drive themselves to destinations when a passenger puts an address into the on-board sat-nav device.
Young passengers would be encouraged to compete with the sat-nav on a driving simulator. When their skills developed they would be allowed control of some features. Advanced drivers would be able to modify vehicles for increased power.
Mazda envisions a 2030 where personalisation and customisation of cars is all-important.
It sees young people designing their own vehicles online based around a platform called Souga, with the company then fulfilling these requirements.
It paints a future where it costs young people just $US2000 to buy the physical car.
Digital communication and information devices, it predicts, will be integrated into fashion apparel, eliminating the need to include these systems in cars.
Toyota's offering for 2030 takes into account that education levels are rising in the US and young consumers are increasingly well educated and proactive.
It proposes LINK, "an affordable, customisable, mass-transit vehicle for students with high social-networking demands and continuously evolving preferences".
These small personal vehicles would be kept at central hubs. They would allow users to tap into social networking sites, trade music and compare class schedules.
Finally, Audi went beyond the brief and created two concept cars – a performance vehicle and an affordable, entry-level car. Both blend lightweight metals and composite materials and feature wheels without hubs.
The company says its low-profiled eSpira would be a "technological tour-de-force" performance car. An advanced logic system would allow drivers to steer the vehicle with body movements and gestures, making motoring a more organic experience.
Perhaps a more realistic option for (typically impoverished) young motorists is the company's eOra, which it envisages would share the logic control system with the eSpira but be more of a city car with a small footprint and good agility.
See more at drive.com.au/cars_of_the_future
Features The company envisages a 2030 in which national highways are electrified (like a dodgem track) to provide power to electric cars.Young consumers would buy access to the system in the way they buy mobile phone credits today.
Maker General Motors
Features This is a selectively self-driving car that allows new drivers to assume full control only after they have proved themselves on on-board driving simulators. As driving skill increases, so do power options.
Features Honda proposes vehicles that can morph to suit their environment. In built-up city areas the vehicle has a small footprint, whereas on the open road it has a larger,more stable platform capable of high speed.
Features Young people are able to design their dream cars online and have them built on the Souga platform. One example is the minimal, lightweight sports coupe (pictured above).
Features Toyota proposes a network of small motorised vehicles, which would be kept at central hubs and personalised by young users.Access to social networking sites is a given.
eOra and eSpira
Name Ora commuter vehicle and eSpira performance car.
Maker Audi. Features Both incorporate on-board computers that allow them to be driven using subtle body movements and gestures.
This story was originally published in the Drive section.