Meet the start-ups shaking up China’s automotive landscape
China is a fertile breeding ground for automotive start-ups. Lynk & Co, Nio, Byton and Polestar have all recently emerged fully formed, marking a shift away from established brand names and towards a connected, all-electric future.
These brand new brands are liberated from a century of fossil-fuelled heritage and show a willingness to completely rethink the role of the car. Geely, the biggest car company you’ve never heard of, is building the Lynk & Co EV sub-brand, as well as Polestar, a Volvo-affiliated performance marque.
Sibylla concept car, by Envision
Meanwhile, Envision’s elegant Sibylla concept was designed by GFG Style studio. Lei Zhang, CEO of Envision Energy, believes in a tech-led approach. ‘We want to demonstrate the future of e-mobility,’ he says. ‘The future EV will be a personal, mobile, intelligent green power station.’ Envision’s USP is an interconnected ‘smart grid’ of devices, storage and power generation that the entrepreneur likens to a ‘Facebook of energy’. There’s also Redspace’s asymmetrical city car, designed by Chris Bangle, the former design chief of BMW.
‘I think most thinking designers have a great ambivalence towards the concept of brands,’ says Bangle. ‘Redspace is refreshing because it has so little inertia from the past and so much to offer.’ The car’s role as a social signifier remains undiminished, but these new brands match desirability with smart design and data-mining as China seeks to escape pollution with the next stage of automotive evolution. §
As originally featured in the June 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*231)