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Most Beautiful Concept Cars – Top 10

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One of the weirdest, but most futuristic concept designs yet; The Audi Shark concept. Flying license most likely a pre-requisite for operating this fella.

While writing the BMW Design Icons article, I thought it would be a good idea to share what I personally believe to be the most aesthetically-pleasing concept car designs yet. Find out more about the concepts and designs after the jump, and tell me what you think!

Other than showing the industry what a manufacturer/design house can do, concepts showcase the brand’s vision and intended artistic path. It also entices the general public about their upcoming offerings, like how garnishing spices up a fine dining dish, by providing appealing visual stimulus. Concepts also enable manufacturers to gauge public reception on a certain offering, and may play a vital role in the decision-making phase of the brand.

This here is a Top 10 list that I have come up with, in ascending order.

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Number 10 – The Mazda Furai concept

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The Mazda Furai; apparently fueled by British Petroleum.

The Furai (風籟 Fūrai – “Sound of the Wind”) is one of the most radical concept cars to have come out of ailing Japanese carmaker Mazda. First revealed in late 2007, it combines an aggressive styling with an equally powerful engine; a naturally aspirated R20B Renesis 3-rotor rotary engine, capable of generating 450hp on E100 ethanol fuel. Unlike other concepts, the Furai is fully functional, and has already spewed exhaust and flames over a few US tracks.

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The Furai comes complete with a race car driver in concept form. Tyre cleaners and pit crew not seen in this picture.

Number 9 – The Citroën GT concept (GTbyCitroën)

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Not exactly beautiful, IMHO, but definitely eye-catching.

First seen as a virtual concept in Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo 5 video game, the Citroën is designed by Takumi Yamamoto of the Style Citroën design team. Its head-turning curves and sharp lines were enough to convince Citroën to make a prototype from the concept, much to fans’ delight.

The virtual car is powered by 4 electric motors that drive each wheel, obtaining its juice from a hydrogen fuel cell and giving off 780bhp. The 1.4-tonne prototype, on the other hand, gets its go from a 5.4-litre Ford V8, and it produces 646hp. The 5-metre by 2-metre prototype may have some issues parallel parking, though. Then again, if you can afford this baby…

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Rear inspired from a mesh of Donald Duck's beak and Marvin the Paranoid Android. No fret, though; French designers have the innate ability of making anything look savoury.

Number 8 – The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento concept

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Striking elegance with almost perfect proportions. Owners will automatically cream their pants upon entry. Passengers get multiple orgasms once the V10 roars to life. Give me one, and I'll wear a tutu of your choice for life.

The Sesto Elemento (lit. translation – Sixth Element) is so named because of its extensive use of carbon fibre (carbon being the 6th element in the periodic table) in its construction, tipping the scales at an feather-light 999kg. The lowered mass meant that the 570hp, 540Nm, 5.2-litre V10-powered, fire-breathing animal will finish the century sprint in 2.5 seconds. It is most probably not going to be road legal.

The reason why this is placed 8th is due to its very high degree of similarity (and hence, some amount of monotony) with the other designs by Lamborghini. The Sesto Elemento will undergo a limited production run of 20 units. Prospective owners will need to have at least 1.7 million pounds sterling lurking somewhere before being eligible for application.

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Rear looks good without being overly vulgar (relative to Lamborghini's design cues, of course). Red brake caliper color only works if the car's Italian.

Number 7 – The Honda NSX concept

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The Honda NSX concept, also the Acura NSX Concept, will be hitting US stateside come Christmas 2014, and Europe in 2015.

The 2012 Acura NSX Concept is the successor to the Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept (ASCC), the latter very nearly permanently axed when Japanese automaker giant Honda suffered financial woes during the 2008 crisis. Coming out from under the ashes, the NSX Concept is now not only a properly fast supercar (at least on paper), but also adheres to Honda’s current eco-friendly approach.

Honda’s latest challenge to the supercar industry is powered by a conventional V8 and an electric motor to the back, essentially making it the second parallel hybrid production supercar (Number 4 holds the distinction of being the first). In addition to the hybrid configuration, the NSX Concept also gets Honda’s proprietary SH-AWD, and TWO MORE electric motors that drive the front wheels.

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Side profile as sleek as can be. Bling-bling rims remind us that the primary market is Amerika Syarikat.

Number 6 – The Lotus Elite concept

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Grace, elegance, style, substance; these are the nouns used by Lotus to describe the slew of new concept cars. I emphatically agree.

The Elite is one of the 5 new concept cars that Lotus dished out during the Paris Motor Show in 2010. With it are the Elan, Eterne, Esprit and the redesigned Elise. The Elite is special in that it is a grand tourer with a 2+2 seating arrangement, and is also a hardtop convertible. By all counts, cars hardly get cooler than this. Add a 5-litre V8 churning in excess of 600hp from a rumoured Lexus powerplant, and we got ourselves Number 6.

Lotus has positioned the Elite to be the gentlemen’s road racer, which doubles up as a comfortable interstate vehicle good enough for a family of 4, with some luggage space to spare. Lotus apparently takes its design inspirations from a mix between a shark and cat, and I think the designers have done a stellar job assimilating the two together. I have to say, though, that the Lotus concept cars bear some resemblance to the NSX Concept. Coincidence? Maybe, but I don’t think anybody will be mistaking the Elite for an Acura.

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Look pal, it's a Lotus, it's a coupé cabriolet, it's fast, and it looks damn sexy. Questions?

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Number 5 – The Citroën Survolt concept

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Nobody will dare to mess with a front facade like that... until they find out it's electric.

Things are starting to heat up as we reach number 5; the Citroën Survolt concept. From its name, one can correctly guess that the Citroën will attempt to position the vehicle as an electric sportster. Citroën has not revealed much about the Survolt, other than it is meant to be a sports-oriented offering, and that the overall masculine tone was purposefully done.

The Survolt’s official website gave a bunch of flowery, ornate, and grandiose descriptions about the aesthetics and characteristics of the car, ultimately establishing next to nothing about its intended audience, vision and goals. It does, however, make one wonder why an electric car would need the multitudes of vents, grilles and airscoops…

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Overall design and direction looks good, if a bit over the top. However, know that we at TCG sometimes reward sheer lunatic brilliance, the Survolt being a case in point.

Number 4 – The Porsche 918 Spyder

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Side-firing exhausts give a touch of brute to the otherwise nature-loving supercar.

This stunner which is the Porsche 918 Spyder was first presented to the public during the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. On paper, this is a very serious, record-breaking eco-friendly car; 3 litres/100km (i.e. 78mph or 33.3 km/l) and emissions of 70 grams of CO2/km. Despite these figures, the 918 Spyder goes from 0 to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds, ultimately reaching a limited top speed of 320km/h (aka like stink!). Utilizing the same powertrain layout as the NSX Concept, the 918 Spyder also has V8-hybrid design at the rear and two electric motors at each front wheel (the 3 electric motors chip in about 218hp).

The specs sounds absolutely impressive, doesn’t it? Yes, but it should not surprise you. These guys are Porsche, after all. If they wanted to, the 918 Spyder could enter warp speed and be driven by willpower alone. What makes this particular concept enticing is its design; it is blatantly Porsche, yet it looks gracefully beautiful. The fluorescent green brake calipers notwithstanding, the 918 Spyder joins the Carrera GT as one of the few properly beautiful cars Porsche has ever made.

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More than 2000 declarations of interest for this baby, so Porsche is going to make a limited run. Hooray! We'd definitely want one too!

Number 3 – The Jaguar C-X16 concept

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Not as sexy or filled with pedigree as the Growler E-type, but it definitely comes close. It wins in fuel consumption figures, and that counts as something today... a lot.

Next up, the Jaguar C-X16 concept is also a hybrid, with a 375hp, 3-litre supercharged V6 engine at the front and an electric motor built into the 8-speed gearbox. The motor contributes an additional 92bhp to the equation, bringing the tally to about 467hp and 635Nm of torque (when using the Push to Pass feature). This translates to the completion of a century sprint in 4.4 seconds, which is mighty fast.

The C-X16 also has a KERS system to recover some of the energy lost from deceleration and braking, making sure each and every ounce of petrol is utilized efficiently. This system makes the 17.4 km/l (5.7 l/100km or 41 mpg) and 165 g/km of CO2 of emissions possible.

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One of the most beautiful rear facades to date. Vermillion leather interior automatically increases sex appeal and street cred.

Number 2 – The Aston Martin Zagato concept

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The V12 Zagato is the 2011 concept design winner at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este where it was unveiled.

For nearly a hundred years, Zagato, an Italian design and consultancy company founded by its namesake, Ugo Zagato, has been producing avant garde and forward-thinking designs for the automotive industry. Its advantage? Aerospace know-how and now-established Italian creative flair, transferred directly to its automotive designs. Aston Martin and Zagato has been collaborating since the DB4 GT Zagato in 1960, and the V12 Zagato was a present to themselves; commemorating their 50 years together.

The V12 Zagato concept was introduced last year in May, and is a working concept specifically made for endurance racing. Its 6-litre V12 is lifted and tweaked from the Vantage (which was taken from the DBS), producing 510bhp and 570Nm of torque. 150 road-legal units will be built for homologation purposes, and estimates put the car at about 330,000 pounds sterling.

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Centre and rear portions collaboratively redesigned by Aston Martin and Zagato, effectively amalgamating both companies' design principles.

Number 1 – The Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta concept

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Best concept car design, Geneva Motor Show, 2010, aka Sex on Wheels.

Another commemorative effort, the 2uettottanta (approximate pronunciation: doo-whey-toe-tanta) was made for Pininfarina’s 80-year anniversary, and Alfa Romeo’s centenary celebrations. Its design was headed by former Pininfarina design director, Lowie Vermeersch, and showcases Pininfarina’s vision for future Alfa Romeo offerings (especially the upcoming Spider). It also takes design cues from the 1966 Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider as a tribute. This gives the concept its name: Duetto and Ottanta (Eighty in Italian).

The 2uettottanta is powered by a front longitudinally-mounted turbocharged 1,750cc inline-4 engine, sending power to the rear wheels via Alfa Romeo’s proprietary 6-speed Twin Clutch Transmission (TCT) gearbox. Conservative estimates put the sensuous roadster’s power figures at 200hp and 320Nm. Not particularly impressive for such a beautiful car, but I feel it’s a good thing; it’ll be rather difficult to see or appreciate a masterpiece if it’s flying down the road.

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This baby looks good from every possible angle, earning itself the top spot for our list. Driving one of these will get any geek laid. Promise.

Honourable mention – Honda CB750 concept

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Would some flamboyant inventor build this as a prototype? Please?

As an added measure, I would like to put the CB750 concept in too. Designed by Igor Chak in 2009, the CB750 concept is reminiscent of the legendary bike launched in 1969, widely hailed as the precursor to the superbikes we now know. Granted, it is not a concept CAR, but I would like to think that you’d agree that his concept is simultaneously breathtaking and astoundingly futuristic.

READ ALSO  Honda Insight and Toyota Prius C Spec Comparison

Update: I think that the new Ducati 1199 Panigale has broken through this concept’s design specifics and limitations, but this is still a beautiful concept.

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Rear looks so trick and sporty. Males may abhor flat tank surface near the crotch.

In summary…

I believe Citroen takes the cake for churning out the most outrageous concept cars. They are radical AND appealing, which is a very rare combination. In fact, I would go so far as to say Citroen’s concepts make Lamborghini look conservative. Porsche, on the other hand, usually produce designs that are clinical and precise. Once in a while, they will reveal a gem (i.e. The Carrera GT), and I think they got it right with the 918 Spyder.

Jaguar and Aston Martin designs for its flagship offerings will never veer from its established brand image, and that is the sad truth of corporate branding. This is the reason why Alfa Romeo’s are, and forever will be (we certainly hope so), the sexiest creatures on earth.

However, I am sure that there are more concept cars out there that I don’t know about, so please do share some of YOUR favourites.

All car photographs from carwalls.com and netcarshow.com. CB750 concept pictures from Igor Chak‘s website.

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[spoiler title=”Spoiler – More information on Number 1″]

2uettottanta
The spider of the future as seen by Pininfarina

To mark its 80th anniversary, Pininfarina proposes an “open” Alfa Romeo that is exciting and a delight to drive

For those who still like to dream in a car. For those looking for a mixture of vanity, entertainment, and the pleasure of life in the open air. For those who love icons as the greatest expression of the age we live in. For those who want their cars to be an uncommon sensory experience in terms of both style and driving, without being obsessed by performance. For those who want to be excited by a dynamic, sporty car that transmits the exclusiveness and refinement typical of an Alfa Romeo spider designed by Pininfarina.

For all of them, we present the 2uettottanta.

2uettottanta: a name that evokes the legendary Duetto, but also the years of activity at Pininfarina, which launches the celebrations for its 80th anniversary with this concept car. And it has decided to do so with a type of car that is by definition, the work of Pininfarina: an Alfa Romeo spider. A very Italian product, which has become an export brand, representing the inexhaustible talent that the whole world associates with Italy.

The 2uettottanta reflects Pininfarina’s determination to look to the future with optimism following tradition, restating its excellence in design and its acknowledged capacity for aesthetic and technological innovation. It is a concept that represents an innovative approach, projected into the third millennium, to a topic that is firmly rooted in Pininfarina history, the 2-seater spider. And like the best Alfa Romeo sports cars to come from Pininfarina’s pencil, the 2uettottanta exalts the driving experience and concentrates on the excitement of being at the wheel of an open car with a great aesthetic personality. It is a car that can make people dream and excites even after many years. The icon of a lifestyle that harks back to a lively, tumultuous period. Like the Duetto of the Sixties, which helped to establish a trend based on the themes of rebellion and escape, thanks to the film “The Graduate”.

The 2uettottanta is also a tribute to Alfa Romeo, which celebrates its centenary in 2010: the alliance between Alfa Romeo and Pininfarina is one of the most significant and durable in the history of the car, one of men and of passion, of design and cutting-edge technical solutions, which has generated an inestimable number of good-looking, innovative cars with plenty of temperament. With a predilection for sports cars and convertibles. The aim is to replicate all this with the 2uettottanta. So a clean, elegant line was chosen for this “simple 2-seater”, which is proposed with a 1750 cc turbo engine positioned longitudinally, an obvious reference to the “1750 Veloce” of 1968, one of the many versions derived from the famous “Osso di Seppia” (Cuttlefish). With its red bodywork, inspired by the typical Alfa Romeo paintwork, the 2uettottanta is 1797 mm wide, 4212.6 mm long, 1280 mm high and has a wheelbase of 2500 mm.

The pleasure of driving and feeling in harmony with nature is transformed into light, sleek, refined volumes, and shapes that seem to slip through the air easily. This generates the theme of this concept: the expression of a single volume, which is some way from the ground and suspended. The 2uettottanta almost seems to lift up from the ground “going further”. It is an optical effect achieved thanks to a line that crosses the whole car horizontally. An uninterrupted sign applied to dynamic, sporty proportions – typical of Alfa Romeo spiders – accentuated by the configuration of the passenger compartment, which is shifted significantly to the rear. The force of the design lies in its exaltation of simplicity, which does not need to show its muscles but concentrates purely on agility and harmony.

The front end of the 2uettottanta underlines its true Alfa Romeo character. The design is simple, with a central line that runs smoothly along the nose of the car, while the execution of the surfaces is more sophisticated. At the centre, in full view, and anything but a purely decorative element, is the Alfa Romeo shield, which seems to emerge from the heart of the car and to stretch outwards, in Pininfarina’s futuristic, three-dimensional approach. The shield is made of aluminium and incorporates floating horizontal flaps. On either side are the two triangular lateral air intakes. The two elements impressed on the imposing bonnet create a natural link between the logo and the large windscreen, which has been designed as a ring in hand-beaten aluminium that emerges from the body of the car without interrupting its flow. The front headlights, which adopt the latest LED technologies, are embedded under the line that gives the whole car its character. A strip of carbon in the lower part of the front acts as an air splitter, channelling the air to the rear end of the car.

The side view of the car, where the theme of the single volume is repeated, highlights the flowing line of the whole, with the shapes merging naturally. The horizontal line “cut” into the sides gives a sense of great dynamism; it starts from the front wheelarch and extends back to the rear wheel. Like an athlete, for a car, being slim also means achieving aerodynamic efficiency. Pininfarina has always strived for natural shapes that can convey efficiency and respect of the environment, an approach confirmed by its great commitment to the theme of eco-sustainable mobility. The 2uettottanta is in perfect harmony with nature, becoming the formal expression of a response to the needs of our day: it is an arrow that flies through the wind almost without encountering resistance.

Smooth, essential, soft surfaces even at the rear, which echoes the front, albeit with slightly more emphasis on the muscles. The design combines stylistic simplicity with a strong character in the volumes and proportions, with details designed to underline the car’s dynamic, light personality. The two bumps seem to emerge from the volume, becoming floating wings that create the roll-over bars behind the seats. At either end, these bars generate an appendix designed to hold the seat belts. Even at the rear the light clusters are slender and embedded under the line that defines the whole section.

Great attention went into the design of the interior. The result is a spacious, comfortable passenger compartment, conceived with light, dynamic volumes, which envelop the occupants in a strong, reassuring embrace. The shapes are sewn into the leather, incorporating the touch controls: in its functions, the 2uettottanta is faithful to its vocation as a car designed to be a delight to drive. The facia extends fluidly to the sides merging into the doorway as the natural continuation of the volume of the car, thus creating a perfect symbiosis between exterior and interior. The dashboard has a driver-oriented configuration with an innovative approach to the classical circular Alfa Romeo “tubes” that contain the instruments. The tunnel contains the Alfa DNA gear selector in an ergonomic position; this varies the set-up of the car in three modes, Dynamic, Normal and All Weather, adapting the behaviour of the various systems on the vehicle (engine, transmission, suspension, steering, brakes, etc.) to the demands of the driver and the different driving conditions. The tunnel runs through the passenger compartment and it gives structure to the chassis, revealing the carbon elements: the choice of this material reflects Pininfarina’s constant research into alternative materials that can make vehicles lighter, reducing consumption and emissions. Another strong element of the interior is the steering wheel, which is a modern interpretation of the Duetto’s perforated three-spoke wheel, with the addition of a shift paddle for sequential control of the dual-clutch gearbox. An enjoyable drive and comfort are also guaranteed by the anatomical sporty seats. All the interior of the car “floats”: the ventilation ducts are positioned between the passenger compartment and the hull.

The size and design of the tyres, which were created specifically for the 2uettottanta in collaboration with Dunlop, accentuate the impression of strong character and force given by the car. The tyres are of the low profile type, right on the extreme edges of the plane view: designed by Pininfarina to incorporate the innovative technologies developed by Dunlop, their graphics reflect those of the car. Their aerodynamic shape and very smooth lateral profile, guarantee better roadholding and less resistance to air, thus reducing consumption. The rims are treated in aluminium in harmony with the rest of the car, and are a free interpretation of the classic five-circle Alfa Romeo pattern, revealing the high performance carbo-ceramic Alfa Romeo brakes by Brembo.

The 2uettottanta is not a pure styling exercise, but also a project and research: the goal is to grasp the spirit of the spider in the configuration, the proportions and the conception of the car as well as in its stylistic imprint. This working method is part of Pininfarina’s genes. For this project, the Pininfarina creative team were given carte blanche to express the values inherent in the Alfa spider “by Pininfarina”, the values that are deemed to have made the Giulietta Spider or the Duetto all-time classics. To achieve this result, the car was given a particular set-up, with a low centre of gravity and a passenger compartment that is very exposed so as not to isolate the occupants from the surrounding environment. The result is to bring the road “nearer” to the eyes of the driver and to increase the sense of dynamism even at low speed.

What is the 2uettottanta effect? Desire. Whoever sees it “must” possess it, drive it, enjoy it. Because the 2uettottanta is not an unattainable dream. Nor does the 2uettottanta only want to impress at first glance, but to achieve a beauty that does not strive solely for immediate confirmation, but gradually reveals all its values and transfers them to the future, making the style eternal. As it did in the case of the Duetto, which continues to be celebrated as an icon of design after more than 40 years.

Alfa Romeo-Pininfarina, the story of a happy marriage

Back in the 1930s, the new Pininfarina company was offered an opportunity to create a Cabriolet type 6C 1750 Gran Sport for Alfa Romeo. This was followed by the Spider Sport Aerodinamico in 1935. For the new post-war Alfa Romeos, Pininfarina began small production runs of special versions. It was very slow at first, just 88 of the Cabriolet type 1900 C Sprint. The real milestone of the 1950s was the worldwide success of the Giulietta Spider, which was designed originally to be exported to the West coast of the United States and then sold all over Europe. It was the legendary success of this model, of which 17,000 were built in the Giulietta version and almost 10,000 in the Giulia version, that changed the future of Pininfarina and indicated its future industrial vocation. This success was matched only by that of the Duetto spider. In its original configuration, the Duetto – made famous by the film “The Graduate” with Dustin Hoffman – was presented at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show: radically revamped and with different names, it continued to be built by Pininfarina until 1993. The Alfa Romeo GTV and Spider, designed by Pininfarina, made their debuts at the 1994 Paris Motor Show; Pininfarina was also responsible for manufacturing from September 2000. In 2003 new versions of both the Spider and the GTV appeared, also designed by Pininfarina. Maintaining the tradition of “open” Alfas designed by Pininfarina, 2006 was the year of the new Alfa Spider (winner of the “Cabrio of the year 2006” title), which is still on the market in its 2008 Model Year version.

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Do check out the gallery for more photographs of the concept cars.

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About Andrew Lee

Andrew is a commercial photographer by day and speed demon by night. Don't let his pleasant, approachable demeanour fool you, as he's an incredible fast driver on the circuit! Andrew is a man of many talents (some hidden). He often baffles many with his uncanny ability to stay awake for an inhuman number of days, then disappears. For hours. TCG labels him “Comatose Man” for his nocturnal endeavours and sleep super powers.

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