If you can make the perfect car for a small number of people who don’t have any other great options, your sales just might be better than someone making a mediocre car for a large number of people. That’s the logic behind the 2+X series of concept vehicles that GAC revealed at the Guangzhou Auto Show yesterday.
Today, the vehicle fleet only really works well for about 80 percent of the population, said Zhang Fan, vice president and head of design for GAC Automotive Research and Development Center. The other 20 percent either use a vehicle not very suited to their needs or move around in some other fashion. This is the audience that GAC wants to reach with the 2+X vehicles, should they ever be put into production.
Fan asked rhetorically, “EVs are a big thing in China, but when we keep producing sedans and SUVs, are they really the best solutions?” The 2+X concepts don’t have a long range — maybe 50 or 80 kilometers — which means a small battery pack that lets you do a lot with the overall design.
All of the 2+X concepts are based on the same two-seat, all-electric platform with a 1.97-meter wheelbase. That’s where the “2” in the name comes from. The three EVs on display in China had the same scissor doors and instrument panels, but for the rest of the features, specific applications are the name of the game. They each have an “X-factor,” Fan said, which is the other half of the name. Here’s how each one is unique:
2U: For the young, independent lady
Designed for a queen — or someone who thinks of herself as one — the 2U is laser focused on the lifestyle of a single woman who lives in the city. The target audience is a strong woman, but one who’s also girly, Fan said. The interior materials are feminine, with rose gold accents and soft fabrics. The driver’s seat is really more of a throne, with the passenger seat something like a bench seat that cuddles up to the main seat. This allows anyone riding with the lady in charge to feel close to her, Fan said.
In the 2U’s small trunk, there’s space for everyday items: a water bottle, a gym bag, and headphones. Up front, there are special bags for shoes (two extra pairs) and slipper-looking pedals. The royalty motif is emphasized by a crown design on the outside of the seats.
2ALL: For all the people
The 2ALL is the 2+X model that is most like something car fans may have seen before. Designed with carsharing in mind, the 2ALL features more durable materials inside. The seats are strong and lightweight, with lots of storage options placed around the vehicle. There’s enough space under the seats for a a small bag. There are separated sections in the trunk for small pieces of luggage. And there’s a horizontal frunk that will fit a 28-inch suitcase. There’s even a little transparent window from the cabin to the frunk so you can see quickly if there’s something there that you forgot. But, well, if you’re headed to the airport in your shared car and you forget your luggage but somehow remember to look at a little shin-level window, that’d be quite a feat.
On top of the 2ALL is a light indicator that can be used to let people know if the car is available (green), occupied (red), or reserved (orange), in the example Fan gave.
2US: for elderly people in the city
Empty nesters with places to go, that’s who the 2US is designed for. Retirees don’t often need a big car and don’t drive fast, Fan said, and the current crop of city EVs are low quality. The 2US emphasizes the idea of a reward for a life well lived, so it’s got plenty of comfort features and ergonomic touches. The idea was to create a cozy, healthy atmosphere, he noted.
The seats swivel out to make getting in and out of the vehicle easier, and the passenger seat can tip back far enough that it scoops you to sleep. The driver’s-side-door armrest has a built-in blood pressure monitor with push-button operation and the trunk features a bacteria-killing floor to make transporting your pet easier and safer. When the kids leave the house, you don’t need rear seats to carry them around, but Fluffy would still like to go along for the ride, right?
As you can tell, these 2+X concepts are a bit different than what we currently see on the roads, but Fan said that the technology is there to turn them into reality. It wouldn’t be difficult to actually produce them, he said, and their appearance at the show is a test to see what people think about them. Who wants to take bets on whether or not they ever make it out of the auto show world?
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