China - 33 million car designers apply to VW
OK, that is stretching it a bit. However there have been 33 million visitors to a Chinese website inviting people to submit idea for future VW models.
Of the 119,000 ideas submitted to the "People's Car Project" (PCP), three have been taken forward and the results are on display at Auto China 2012. These concepts are the Hover Car, the Music Car and the Smart Key.
With the Hover Car, an environmentally-friendly two-seater city car which hovers just above the ground, VW is showing a zero-emissions vehicle that could travel along electromagnetic road networks. Hmmm, we remember promises of magnetic levitation transport coming soon – but those promises were made in the 1970s.
The 'Music Car' expresses the wish of many Chinese for vehicle customisation. Equipped with organic light emitting diodes, the exterior colour of the vehicle changes with the driver's choice of music. We think this one might actually happen in some form. Lighting displays are getting more and more important in car design, with fancy LED headlights now being almost mandatory on luxury cars. This design takes the idea to its ultimate conclusion.
The 'Smart Key', also developed under the PCP and currently on show in Beijing, takes up the trend towards the integration of online technologies: the slim nine millimetre key has a high-resolution touchscreen which keeps the driver up to date on the fuel situation, climate conditions and the car's security via the 3G network. The driver can also monitor the vehicle from a bird's eye perspective through real-time satellite transmission.
That certainly takes vehicle tracking to a whole new level, although we never knew the Chinese were so security conscious. 20 years ago China was one of the favoured destinations for stolen cars from Hong Kong (amusingly furious buyers would often complain to manufacturers that their stolen cars would not run properly on low-grade Chinese petrol). We did not know car theft within China was an issue.
'The creative ideas from the 'People's Car Project' give us a valuable insight into the wishes of Chinese drivers,' Simon Loasby, Head of Design at Volkswagen Group China, said. 'The trend is towards safe cars that can easily navigate overcrowded roads and have a personal, emotional and exciting design.'