While a multitude of lofty OEMs from Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini used the recent Beijing Motor Show as a venue to display vehicles of astonishing opulence, there was another effort made that is probably more significant that the grandiose vehicles, one that had some of its results displayed at Auto China 2012: The Volkswagen “People’s Car Project.”
VW setup a website for this China-based project 11 months ago. There were more than 33-million visitors to the site. There were more than 119,000 ideas submitted for vehicles and technologies that the participants were interested in seeing come to life.
“The creative ideas from the ‘People’s Car Project’ give us a valuable insight into the wishes of Chinese drivers,” said Simon Loasby, head of Design at Volkswagen Group China. “The trend is towards safe cars that can easily navigate overcrowded roads and have a personal, emotional and exciting design.”
VW developed three of the ideas.
There is the Hover Car, a two-seater that would hover over the surface of electromagnetic roads:
The Music Car, which has organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) on its exterior surface so that the color of the car changes with the music being played by the driver:
The Smart Key, a 9-mm thick fob with a high-resolution touch screen that provides a variety of information, including the fuel in the vehicle and the weather:
VW had planned to run the People’s Car Project for a year, but given the activity, is extending it indefinitely.
Said Luca de Meo, director of Marketing, Volkswagen Group and the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, “The ‘People’s Car Project’ in China marks the beginning of a new era in automobile design. We are no longer just building cars for, but also with customers and at the same time initiating a national dialog which gives us a deep insight into the design preferences, needs and requirements of Chinese customers.”
Still, VWs will retain the character of VWs. De Meo went on to say, “In a long-term context, the findings of the ‘People’s Car Project’ will influence Volkswagen’s product strategy. The design of our models will, however, continue to reflect the tradition of the Volkswagen brand. If at some time in the future we are to produce a vehicle from the ‘People’s Car Project,’ it will be a combination of customers’ opinions and brand tradition.”