Last week we were at the Beijing show to see the latest car designs and talk with the designers behind them - both the many westerners based here and the often less internationally well known Chinese designers - as part of the research we do for the Design Trend Reports we produce at all of the major auto shows.
Given the paucity of clear information about much of the cars, and the nominal presence of western media here, we thought it might be useful to share three of our headline findings and thoughts...
Beijing 2018 is perhaps the first auto show where we have seen so many proper “Car 2.0” designs; connected, autonomous, shared, electric cars with modernist designs - particularly in their interior. The already seen Byton (albeit with a second green car along with the first grey one from CES) and Neo ES8 were joined in Beijing by concepts such as the Oshan, the Qiantu Concept 1 and to some extent by the Senova Offspace Suit, to show a brave new Chinese world of car design.
The second big take-away was how in China several brands’ human-machine-interface (HMI) solutions are stepping beyond the best from the west. From the assistants in the Neo ES8 and the Wey-X concept, to the open sourced app filled, all-encompassing digital interfaces of even cheap production cars such as the Byd Had Qin sedan, Beijing 2018 underscored the digitisation of the car cabin.
These strong Car 2.0 designs, and, to a lesser extent, the very visible screen dominance of the cabin, go beyond perhaps what we have seen from the western car brands. Our third most notable thought from Beijing was more subtle if no less significant. Not long ago many Chinese cars were well known for being ‘copy-cat’ designs; today this has all but disappeared, and whilst there are strong hints of Range Rover Evoque and Porsche Macan in many Chinese brand crossovers, there is also a ground-swell of really well executed, handsome crossover designs. The Roewe Marvel X, Yudo TT7, Weltmeister EX5, Senia R9, and concepts like the Bestern T, Byd E-Seed, Buick Enspire, and MG X-Motion all need no excuses when compared with the also new Volkswagen Touareg and Lincoln Aviator.
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by CDR team