Driving into a brave new world
Concept cars unveiled in Shanghai are coming to a street near you
A Renault SA EZ-Ultimo concept electric vehicle displayed at the Shanghai International Automobile Exhibition.
Welcome to the brave new world of motoring.
At last week’s Shanghai Auto Show, the concept cars of tomorrow wowed visitors by turning science fiction into science fact.
Hyper-connected and autonomous, they all shared a common theme: They were built for China’s sharing economy – a testing ground for the rest of the world.
To take advantage of this, manufacturers are competing not only to sell conventional and electric vehicles in the world’s biggest auto market, but also to develop new technologies and even specific interiors for the on-demand world.
“We cannot just develop electric cars. They will have to be smart, interconnected and, of course, shared,” Zhao Guoqing, the vice-president of Chinese car giant Great Wall Motors, said on the show’s sidelines.
Discussions on ride-hailing vehicles inevitably turned the conversation towards Didi Chuxing, the country’s answer to Uber.
Last year, Didi unveiled an alliance of Chinese and foreign manufacturers, including Renault, Toyota and Volkswagen, dedicated to exploring ways forward.
And in February, Chinese technology giants Alibaba and Tencent linked up with several auto majors to develop a future platform for on-demand transport.
“We can no longer be a conventional manufacturer, we must offer mobility solutions, connectivity,” Stephan Wollenstein, the director of Volkswagen China, told a media conference.
– additional reporting by AFP