China is the perfect place to think about the future shape of mobility. It’s my job here to push my staff to push the envelope and think about the global automotive future from Beijing
Mercedes designer Olivier Boulay, explains his inspiration migration from Japan’s chauffeur-car culture to the streets of Beijing. The Wall Street Journal puts the cliches about China’s role in the world of automotive design, pointing out that (among other things) for every Geely GE, there’s a Buick Invicta. Not only are Chinese designers affecting Western brands, other Western brands like Mercedes are transferring design staff to China to seek out inspiration in the world’s new largest car market. And developing styling to Chinese tastes is about more than gaining market share there. China’s seemingly contradictory love affairs with conspicuous consumption and electric vehicles (mostly bicycles) represent a heady fusion of luxury and futuretech, a combination that already defines the marketing of many Western luxury car brands. As these trends develop, and as the Chinese market grows, auto design will increasingly be shaped by and in the Middle Kingdom.