So you think you are a carfreak hu? A stroll over the Shanghai Auto compound will teach you something different. I, at least, never felt so overwhelmed and confused visiting a car show. An eclectic mix straight out of Car Magazines GBU. First of all the diversity of models at display. An endless list of car brands one has never heard of. I gave up trying to feed them into my personal matrix, no chance! And yes, I could have taken photos of all the company logos, but who cares. The Shanghai experience beams you back to the early 20th century when Europe had hundreds of car manufactures. I guess we have to wait and see who will survive the big shake out that will come eventually.
In this trial and error process many times help comes from abroad, be it in cooperations or copy machines. One thing is for sure, the Chinese manufacturers are eagerly and amazingly quick in learning the job and adopting design languages seen somewhere else. A Hyundai Curb Concept (Detroit 2011) body side on an unbalanced sedan, combined with a Gandini-esque wheel arch, no problem. A Mazda Shinari look a like? Yes we can!
On average the surfacing quality is not bad at all. TIme after time you see stands with three concept cars lined up, all of them with completely different design directions. The red Brilliance a delight, and next to it its ugly sister. Confusing. Later I hear the limousine with touches of Skoda meets Ford has been conceived in Turin, the other car in Tokyo. More is more. Spread your wings and fly, we worry about the landing when we'll get there. The one component that is missing is brand identity. This will be the next challenge for Chinese manufacturers.
The Japanese have come a long way and the Korean are getting there. A quick look at Kia will show you how you can positively transform a brand in a couple of years. The work of Peter Schreyer and his team has started to pay off. The Chinese will follow soon, learning by doing.They might even set their own standards. Who needs Euro NCAP if you can create your own label, five stars within reach.
Two days at the Shanghai chicken run. The music has been too loud, my ears are deafened and my mind is soaked. A look inside a start up circus. Where can we find the golden egg. Definitely have to come back in a couple of years. Put Shanghai on your short list, it will broaden your horizon!