Auto Shanghai 2023 concept cars: future mobility takes on bold new forms
Our pick of Auto Shanghai 2023 concept cars, as Lancia, Nissan, Citroën and Toyota brought their conceptual EV visions to the revitalised Chinese show
While the industry and media spotlight on Auto Shanghai 2023 and its key reveals made April a good time to launch a swathe of new production cars, the Chinese auto show was also host to several intriguing concepts. Our pick of the show ranges from far-future dreams to lightly disguised new production models.
Auto Shanghai 2023 concept cars
Lancia Pu+ra HPE concept
Lancia has languished in the doldrums for years – decades, even. Now part of Stellantis, the ailing Italian company hopes to break out of its design funk with this dramatic new concept car. The Lancia Pu+ra HPE concept draws its key inspiration from the Stratos, the wedge-shaped Bertone-designed rally car from 1971 that still looks futuristic today.
This new vision shares some of that razor-sharp 1970s optimism, an assemblage of geometric forms that’s intended to signpost the way for new electric models, including a new compact Ypsilon and Delta mid-size model. If Lancia can bottle just a fraction of the vivacious spirit of its past, as celebrated in the Pu+Ra’s airy retro-futurist forms, it’ll have a chance to rise again.
Citroën Autonomous Mobility Vision
Citroën’s Autonomous Mobility Vision is built on a modular platform, the Citroën Skate, an autonomous electric module that can be decked out with an interchangeable set of ‘pods’, ranging from personal transportation units to stores and entertainment venues. Three new visions were created specifically for China and shown in Shanghai. Future cities buzzing with mobile venues is a popular vision, but the more practical applications of a system like the Skate is for cargo carrying and deliveries – the alternative has the potential to become another form of tourist rickshaw, hardly the most welcome vehicle in any urban environment.
That said, the Immersive Air, Cozy Capsule and Wander Café shown here are undeniably more exciting than a courier van. The first is a kind of mobile karaoke booth or spot for meetings on the move. The Cozy Capsule is an upscale taxi module, while the Wander Café offers ‘tasting experience while cruising through cityscapes’, complete with Bird’s Nest Stadium-inspired canopy.
Nissan Max-Out and Arizon Concepts
Nissan’s conceptual duo were chalk and cheese. The Max-Out EV convertible sports car concept is a stunning vision of a future electric roadster, awash with neat design touches, a fluid one-piece body that offers an alternative to the long-bonnet proportions of a ‘traditional’ sports car. Touches like the parabolic hologram wheels are pure theatre.
In contrast the Arizon SUV was rather more conventionally shaped. Previewing a future SUV for the Chinese market, the Arizon incorporates a virtual personal assistant (VPA), Eporo, as well as a spacious cabin accessed via clamshell-style doors. Expect VPAs to become a core part of future automotive offerings, as manufacturers seek to imbue EVs with a distinct personality.
Toyota bZ Sport Crossover and bZ FlexSpace Concepts
Toyota also debuted two new concepts, both of which had a whiff of realism about them. The bz Sport Crossover Concept looks like a natural evolution of the company’s bZ4X EV, while the bZ FlexSpace Concept simply takes the design language established by Toyota’s debut EV and upscales it. The result is, finally, a readymade family of tasteful electric vehicles from the world’s second largest car manufacturer.
Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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