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In the future, there is nowhere cars won’t go. From underwater to outer space, cars will not only provide transportation, they can help people in need, they can monitor air quality, and they can provide entertainment. Those are the visions for cars of the future by nine U.S. youth announced today as the national winners of the annual Toyota Dream Car Art Contest.

Now World Contest Semi-Finalists, the artwork by these nine youth advances to represent the United States in competing against entrants from over 80 countries. In August 2016, the top 30 World Winners will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Toyota City, Japan, and participate in an awards ceremony, which includes a tour of a Toyota manufacturing plant. The nine 2016 U.S. Winners were chosen by a national panel of 12 judges who viewed artwork by 32 U.S. finalists; the latter of which had been selected by nearly 1,000 Toyota team members nationwide from a pool of 90 U.S. semi-finalists. The judges were:

Cheech Marin, Actor, Comedian, Director, and Art Collector
Bryan Benedict, Senior Staff Designer, Hot Wheels®
Mike Groff, President & CEO, Toyota Financial Services
William Chergosky, Project Design Mgr., Calty Design Research, Inc.
Dave Kunz, Eyewitness News Automotive Specialist. KABC 7
A.J. Gordon, Automotive Journalist and Host, CarStories.com podcast for Petersen Automotive Museum
Al Smith, Group VP, Service Operations & Corporate Planning, Toyota Financial Services
Ann Bybee, VP, Corporate Strategy, Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility & Program Mgmt., Toyota Financial Services
Karen Ideno, VP of Product and Marketing, Toyota Financial Services
Anthony Salcido, VP & Corporate Controller, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.
Susan Sanborn, Curator & Director, Toyota USA Automobile Museum
John Valadez, Artist

“If you take a look at the artwork these kids created, you see that not only have they designed a dream car, many have incorporated their dream car into an ideal future environment and society,” said actor and art collector Cheech Marin. “These are more than aspirational, they are inspirational. These are true pieces of art.”

“The best part about being a Hot Wheels designer is creating our very own versions of our dream cars for fans everywhere,” said Bryan Benedict, senior staff designer, Hot Wheels. “I was amazed by the creativity of designs submitted in this year’s contest and how these children solved real-world problems in such imaginative ways.  It’s very encouraging to see a new generation of designers create concepts for the car of their dreams.”

“The Toyota Dream Car Art Contest is designed to inspire children and young teens to imagine the evolution of transportation in a rapidly changing world,” said Mike Groff, President and CEO of Toyota Financial Services. “What we see in these young artists’ work is more than cars, but solutions to a variety of social, environmental, and economic issues these kids see around them. They’re envisioning a world in which enhanced transportation is making the world a better place.”

The Toyota Dream Car Art Contest is a worldwide contest presented annually, designed to inspire creativity in youth and imagine the future of mobility. Winners of the Toyota Dream Car Art Contest in participating countries worldwide are chosen from three age categories (under 8 years old; 8-11 years old; and 12-15 years old), with judging based on three criteria: artistry, uniqueness, and execution of concept. The first international contest was held in 2004 by Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan. This is the fifth year of the U.S. contest.

U.S. WINNERS – CATEGORY 1 (Under 8 Years)
Gold: Toyota Fun Car by Daniel Hanxiang Zhou, age 7; Ann Arbor, Michigan
Silver: Toyota Plant Healer by Koiip Lam, age 7; Bayside, New York
Bronze: Weather-Powered Car by Ezra Naphtali Zapler, age 7; Greenville, North Carolina

U.S. WINNERS – CATEGORY 2 (8-11 Years)
Gold: Whale Car by Wenxu Zhong, age 11; Ann Arbor, Michigan
Silver: U.W.C.C. (Underwater Cleaning Car) by Ashley McGinn, age 10; Arcadia, California
Bronze: Food Generator by Xinyi Christine Zhang, age 10; Monmouth Junction, New Jersey

U.S. WINNERS – CATEGORY 3 (12-15 Years)
Gold: Astronomical Toyota Car by Carolina Montoya, age 15; Wasco, California
Silver: Toyota Teleporter by Sophia Mingrou Cui, age 15; Forest Hills, New York
Bronze: Toyota Solar-Powered Green Energy Maker by Erna M. Chiu, age 13; Ann Arbor, Michigan