Auto Special: Designed online: 'The People's Car' of the future

Updated: 2013-04-22 07:23

By Xu Xiao (China Daily)

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 Auto Special: Designed online: 'The People's Car' of the future

Volkswagen China executives join Tsinghua design students to imagine a new future for cars. Photos Provided to China Daily

The People's Car Project, a two-year dialogue between Volkswagen and the Chinese people about future auto innovation, culminated with the debut of a stunning concept model at Auto Shanghai on Sunday.

Volkswagen carried out its dialogue through social media and an innovative web platform that let Chinese consumers design and share ideas for future cars.

Over the past two years, the website received more than 35 million visits, and Chinese users submitted more than 210,000 car designs and ideas for innovation.

"The project initiated an open dialogue between the Volkswagen brand and the Chinese people, further strengthening the close relationship the brand shares with its Chinese customers," said Katherine Zhang, director of the brand marketing department at Volkswagen China. "Its success has opened up new possibilities for Volkswagen's innovative online marketing strategy."

"The People's Car" design, the final outcome for the campaign, reflects the creativity of its many participants, as well as insights into what the Chinese people want for future cars.

It is a fashionable SUV-MPV tailored for the traditional Chinese family with seven seats for parents, child, and four grandparents.

The final design emerged from a design competition between student teams from Tsinghua University and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts.

The design was refined with input from Chinese creatives, including pop star Zhou Bichang and film director Jia Zhangke, as well as Volkswagen's design team in China.

"The People's Car" reflects the four stages of the project - design, personalization, connectivity, and the environment.

Its body can change its exterior color and interior lighting to fit the mood and tastes of its passengers. Meanwhile, augmented reality windows display information about areas the car travels through.

Demonstrating ideas from the project's environment phase, this electric car is powered by a wireless charging and its solar panel roof, achieving reliable transportation with zero emissions.

"As a responsible automaker, the most important thing we do is to make reliable products through constant innovation," said Zhang. "To be innovative, we must listen to the voices of the people in the market."

At Auto Shanghai, participants can experience firsthand many of these innovative ideas and advanced technologies that emerged from Volkswagen's dialogue with the people.

Video screens display many ideas that emerged in The People's Car Project over the past two years, and the concept design model includes striking lighting effects, including an LED panel that transforms the front of the vehicle into an animated face.

"The People's Car" shows a brand that is listening closely to the Chinese people and what they need and desire from their cars.

Volkswagen, in its 30 years in China, has been a partner of the Chinese people. But only now has the power of social media allowed the brand to carry out a dialogue of this scale with the Chinese people.

"In this new era of online interaction, we can now communicate with China's consumers in an open and way," Zhang said. "Volkswagen will continue communicating with its customers through innovations in social media. Moving forward, we hope to deepen our dialogue and relationship with the people."

 Auto Special: Designed online: 'The People's Car' of the future

The result of a two-year dialogue with the people.

 Auto Special: Designed online: 'The People's Car' of the future

The concept model is equipped with gull-wing doors.

(China Daily 04/22/2013 page7)