Beijing auto show was originally scheduled for April this year, but it was delayed by COVID-19 and related travel and social-distancing restrictions. It finally took place in September, but travelling in and out off China for the show wasn’t possible, so we used China based associates and a variety of remote resources to research and produce for our clients our Design Trend Report from the show. This also enabled us to author here an overview of some of the most significant design debuts, insights, highlights and a synopsis of the show — as we do for all major international auto shows.
Because the Beijing show was delayed, there were more new products presented than usual, 5 months more perhaps, although this was maybe off-set by a scaled back attendance meaning more cars were presented out of the show — several of the designs we detail here were not at the show, and as part of the wider move away from auto shows debuts we are including here designs such as the Ford Bronco and GMA T.50 that are significant new announcements from the show period.
This show period was rich with new designs making it hard to choose only three to stand as the most significant and examples of the trends we are seeing. Start-up car brands have come to define Chinese auto shows in recent years, and whilst the rate of their appearance may now be slowing, the ambition and level of delivery seen from them shows no sign of waning; the Human Horizons HiPhi X exemplifies this in its forward looking design and advanced technologies — there is no facet of this design that is pausing for breath. In a similar but different way, the Qoros Milestone concept shows how the pure aesthetic side of automotive design in China is very much at the bleeding edge of the discipline; it presents a form language that is very much at the vanguard. In a very different way, the Ford Bronco illustrates how key designs will increasingly debut outside of major auto shows, how it can be relevant to the future to re-imagine past ideas, and in doing so how design as a narrative makes both a compellingly rich offer to the customer and is thus also central to how design realises commercial value to the brand.
The new production designs in Beijing mostly evidence the continued fast evolution of Chinese domestic brands’ design competency, notably with mature and well resolved leading designs from Geely, FAW, GWM, and Wulwing, and also with some truly
advanced concept designs from Qoros and GAC.
Interestingly there were many designs that stand as stakes in the ground for their brands in three different ways:
1. The first fruits of senior European design directors work presented in the form of the Great Wall Futurist concept from Phil Simmons and the Hongqi E-HS9 large SUV from Giles Taylor.
2. Many marques re-asserting fresh design directions with major new production debuts — notably from Nissan, Rolls Royce, Skoda, and Maserati.
3. And several re-birthing model-lines as more significant sub-brand icons: Bronco from Ford, Wagoneer from Jeep, Hummer from GMC, and Z-Proto from Nissan.
Beyond this we saw further developments of the coupe-crossover-fastback car, more simplified interiors, and a swath of other trends that we have identified and explain fully in our “2020 CDR Trend Report 6 – Autumn Auto – Europe and China focus” (drop us a line if you’re interested to learn more about these - as currently presented to the design groups of some of the leading western and eastern car brands of the world).