Re: What Should a Chinese Car Look Like?
- From: rst0wxyz <rst0wxyz@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 26 Apr 2007 16:09:15 -0700
Well, it looks like any other cars. They have a motor, a steering
wheel, gas patel, a break, and four tires,...
On Apr 25, 9:04 pm, PaPaPeng <PaPaP...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
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Audio Slide Show
What Should a Chinese Car Look Like?
By KEITH BRADSHER
Published: April 22, 2007
Shanghai Auto Show
THE main language spoken at the Shanghai auto show is Chinese, but the
vocabulary of the designs is polyglot: Italian flourishes, high
Japanese roofs, German solidity, American assertiveness.
What is missing? Almost anything that could indicate the emergence of
a distinctly Chinese school of automotive design.
China has the world's fastest-growing auto market and has already
overtaken Japan in domestic sales; it now trails only the United
States. Both multinational and Chinese automakers have learned that it
is a lot easier to build new car factories than to instill a new
generation of Chinese designers and engineers with the sensibilities
to have a lasting effect on global automotive design.
Chinese automakers like Chery, Great Wall, Landwind and others rely on
Italian design studios to come up with concept cars that lend pizazz
to their increasingly elaborate auto show displays. Production models
remain similar to existing Western and Japanese models - sometimes
suspiciously so, like the Chery QQ, a best seller here, which is
similar to the Chevrolet Spark.
Such limitations are not stopping automakers from trying to determine
what buyers in China really want. And with money and talent pouring
into the industry, practically everyone here agrees that it is only a
matter of time before China starts to become known for car design as
"Each country has their own vocabulary or tastes for design, and
especially in China they have a very long history" to develop such
tastes, said Katsumi Nakamura, president and chief executive of the
Dongfeng Motor Company, a joint venture of Nissan and the Dongfeng
With first-time car owners accounting for three-fifths of car buyers,
the emphasis so far has been on showiness and providing lots of
features that dealership employees can easily explain to customers.
"The current perception of Chinese customers is: luxury means putting
on wooden panels, the seat of the car should be leather, and a luxury
car should have a sunroof," Mr. Nakamura said.
The emphasis on flash and interiors has frustrated designers who want
to foster a greater appreciation in China for the subtleties of
exterior design. "We have to teach the Chinese a more functional
Italian way to use a car - not just for status," said Roberto Piatti,
chief executive of Torino Design in Italy, which created the Lui sport
utility concept vehicle and Lei concept coupe for Chery for the
Beijing auto show in November.
Sometimes, Chinese designs are surprising. The Great Wall Coolbear
concept vehicle, first shown in Beijing, was created by Chinese
designers who flew to European and American design institutes for help
and then ended up producing a high-roof vehicle reminiscent of the
At least one Chinese company has started showing a knack for savvy
marketing, although its vehicle designs remain derivative. The
classiest displays at the Beijing and Shanghai auto shows belonged not
to a luxury brand like Mercedes or Cadillac, but to the Shanghai
Automotive Industry Corporation, known as S.A.I.C. The automaker
displays its British-influenced sedans on a large polished wooden
stand akin to those used by Jaguar at the Detroit auto show.
Last year, S.A.I.C. acquired technological rights to the Rover 75 from
the MG Rover Group, which is now defunct, while Nanjing Auto bought
the rest of the company, including the fabled MG brand. Ford acquired
rights to the Rover car brand to retain control over its Land Rover
division, so S.A.I.C. has renamed its model the Roewe, which is also
easier to pronounce in Chinese.
Rover was a decidedly middle-market brand, at best, before it went
bust in Britain. But Roewe is being presented here as an up-market
line. To make sure no one missed its European heritage in
status-conscious China, the S.A.I.C. cars have unusually large badges
displaying two regal lions. At the Beijing show, an enormous
television screen showed a video again and again of Rovers being
driven around country estates - although some of the estates looked
more Mediterranean than British.
"We're proud of the fact our I.P.R. has British heritage," Phil
Murtaugh, S.A.I.C.'s executive vice president said, using an
abbreviation for intellectual property rights.
Purely Chinese automakers hold less than a third of the market, and
tend to be so dominated by engineers that they have only begun to
build design staffs. So the real work in figuring out how Chinese
consumers differ from buyers elsewhere has mainly fallen to the
multinationals that control more than two-thirds of the market through
50-50 joint ventures with local partners.
Ford showed a new version of the Mondeo sedan on Thursday that was
actually designed in Cologne, Germany, for the Chinese market,
although its design was based on consumer research in China. The
molding atop the doors is shiny chrome on the Chinese model, while the
more understated Mondeo sold in Europe has black rubber or plastic
molding, said Martin Smith, executive director for design at Ford of
But Mondeos destined for China are more elegant in one way than those
marketed in Europe. Chinese Mondeos, which will be built in Chongqing,
will have real light-emitting diodes for taillights; the new Mondeo
sold in Europe will use conventional taillights designed to look as if
they have light-emitting diodes.
The Chinese Mondeo will get the real thing because it is being
marketed to automotive trendsetters as a premium sporty vehicle, not
the family car that it is in Europe. Chinese trendsetters, called
"demand progressives" by Ford's bureaucracy, are actually more aware
of the latest technologies and more insistent on acquiring them than
are comparable buyers in Europe or the United States, Mr. Smith said.
General Motors showed a Buick Riviera concept car here in an effort to
evoke the subtle attention to detail in the lines on Chinese
porcelain. Designers at G.M.'s joint venture with S.A.I.C. modified
Buick's traditional double sweep-spears on the side of the car so they
seem to fade away in the middle only to reappear at the rear.
The subtlety, easily lost if not explained, is deliberate. "To put a
Chinese lantern on the headlights, that's not something I get too
excited about," said James Shyr, the joint venture's design director.
Every show has some losers. Chinese auto shows have more than their
share because municipalities and provinces across China have been
setting up their own carmakers even though some have scant expertise.
At the Shanghai show, a military-green S.U.V. from Beijing Automobile
Works made a Hummer look graceful. The lime-green F3-R subcompact
hatchback from BYD Auto demonstrated that even a bright pastel cannot
rehabilitate a bland design - and might draw attention to the
Not all the dubious entries were Chinese. The Iran Khodro Industrial
Group showed a gray sedan with a 1.8-liter engine that would probably
not sell well in the United States even beyond any geopolitical
objections: the manufacturer promotes itself as IKCO and the car would
probably attract the nickname Ick-o, a reasonable description for an
almost starkly functional vehicle that seems inspired by the worst
failures among small cars of the 1970s.
But the broader trend toward more competitive offerings is
unmistakable - and someday the cars displayed here, or their immediate
descendants, are likely to show up in dealerships in the United
"The domestic market will be saturated someday," said Tong Dongcheng,
vice president of Dongfeng Motor, "and we'll have to export and take
some market share."
- What Should a Chinese Car Look Like?
- From: PaPaPeng
- What Should a Chinese Car Look Like?
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