Aluminium concept cars of the future got an airing at a conference to highlight the use of the lightweight metal in the transport industry.

Students from the school of industrial design at Coventry University showed off their latest innovations at the Moving Forward with Aluminium conference at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

A peapod like transporter and a lightweight structure based on a traditional Japanese paper door were among the concepts recognised at the event, which was organised by the Aluminium Federation.

Paul Frigout picked up £1,000 for his Honey concept, which was based on a Japanese door, in the intensive use of aluminium category.

Runners up were Stephen Slater and Darren Garrett, who recieved £500 and £250.

Mr Garrett won the innovative use category - and £1,000 - for Ubersegway, a giant peapod machine which can move up to 20 passengers.

Runners up were Zeb Forrest Wilkinson with a motorcycle concept and Stephen Slater for his camper van design.

Prof Heinz Wolff, the presenter of The Great Egg Race, awarded the prizes.

He said: "It is very appropriate for a city like Coventry with its motoring tradition to produce these students."

Earlier the conference heard how aluminium cars are the future of the motor industry with benefits of lightness making vehicles more environmentally friendly and cheaper to run.

Jaguar already uses the metal extensively in its XJ saloon and XK sports car which are both produced at its plant in Castle Bromwich.

Automotive expert Prof Garel Rhys said he could see many more cars using the benefits of aluminium technology in future.

He said: "If you want to reduce the fuel use, a good way to start is to reduce the weight of a vehicle by using aluminium.

"If you reduce the weight by ten per cent, you cut the fuel use by ten per cent. It is not just about better engines and more efficient fuels."

Richard Mahoney, spokesman for the Aluminium Federation, said: "Aluminium is more expensive to produce than steel because it uses a lot of energy, but it has lots of benefits.

"It is a third of the weight and does not rust and is totally recyclable. Recycled aluminium is worth between £800 to £1,000 a ton. Nowadays you often have to pay for your car to be recycled, but in future people will be paying you to scrap your car."