Circulus by Santosh Chawla, USA

2009: Brave + Bold. America’s Next Iconic Vehicle.

Drawings on Display at Michelin Challenge Design™


Santosh Chawla is a graphic designer with a balance of creativity and resourcefulness with a strong background in packaging and branding. For the past five years, he has been working with HKA Design, in San Francisco, California.

His training as a designer began at Rachana Sansad University, Mumbai, India, that allowed him to pursue a career as a graphic designer. Parallel to his profession he indulged in a passion for cars, specifically dreaming-up conceptual automobiles.

A Scholarship in Graphic Design from the Academy of Art University brought him to San Francisco. Exposed to a whole new world of opportunities he explored his passion and participated in several automotive design contests over the last few years including the Motor Trend Design Contest in 2003, the Peugeot Design Contest in 2004 and the Motor Trend Design Contest in 2005. Earning a 2nd place in 2003 Motor Trend Readers Choice Category heightened his pursuit for excellence in design.


In an environment of urban density we are faced with the problem of streets clogged with fuel-guzzling, oversized cars which also lack maneuverability. The intention with the “Circulus” was to design a compact vehicle which pleases it’s occupants in every way. The versatility combined with the vehicle’s overt cool factor and the ability to use it in different environments is this vehicle’s strong points. Either as an explorer of sandy beaches, snowy backroads, winding mountain passes, or simply commuting in the city, the circulus occupies an automotive niche like no other. Its’ dynamic shape and panoramic windshield make it lively and fun to drive. The occupants are always in contact with their surroundings.

The car front is omni-directional, so the sphere can roll to any direction, where as the rear provides more stability and braking. If the driver wants, it can turn 360º on a dime. The sphere is controlled by an independent engine connected to an intelligent system that recognizes every movement.

Circulus runs on a slim hydrogen power plant hidden in the back. The side body panels are made from recycled plastic, polyurethane for the seats and aluminum for the mechanical parts. There are LED’s for headlights and taillights. The main components such as the chassis and head protection are metal. Made up of simple component coach work (basic intersected volumes), the circulus is easily produced and accessible to everyone, but most of all, its fun to drive.