The big auto shows used to be in Detroit and Frankfurt. It may be that the hot show now is in Beijing, at the seat of the fastest-growing consumer market on the globe. And guess what? The level of sophistication is among the highest in the world. Chinese buyers are very sensitive to the highest-quality look and assemblies. That’s just about the opposite of conventional wisdom of six or seven years ago.
The 13th Beijing Auto Show, held in April, featured 1,134 vehicles, including a pretty-amazing 118 premiere cars in the global auto market, 71 concept cars and 79 alternative energy vehicles. All big numbers.
Engineers and marketers from Bayer MaterialScience put together their views on the biggest trends in Chinese auto design affecting plastics. Here they are:
Light-colored interiors are very strongly favored by Chinese customers. Ninety-nine
percent of the vehicles at the Beijing Auto Show had light gray or beige overhead interiors. Brands including Ford, Volkswagen, Roewe and Honda, featured models with a light interior. Interestingly, imported cars are more inclined to use dark colors for overhead interiors. (OK, I had to look up Roewe. It’s a Chinese luxury brand).
Plated parts, such as dashboard air vents, emblems, interior door handles and galvanized trim, are often seen in the design of all classes of cars. They come in high-gloss, low-gloss and matte finishes.
LED lighting in head and tail lamps is a trend among luxury cars and mid-level vehicles. An increasing number of vehicles use LED lighting in head and tail lamps along with light guides or diffusion effects.
The high-gloss exterior trend is a mainstream design feature for upper-class cars. External B-pillars and grilles are made out of high-gloss packages. With a glass-like surface, piano black finish and wall thickness reduction, this is a popular choice among premium brands.
The Haval E electric concept vehicle by Great Wall Motors uses polycarbonate for seven window and roof components. The Makrolon polycarbonate cuts weight, as well as improving performance through lowering of the vehicle’s center of gravity and increasing occupant safety in the event of an accident, says Bayer. The BMW i3 has one of the highest levels of polycarbonate usage of any vehicle. A growing trend in vehicle interiors is use of polycarbonate films back-molded with polycarbonate subtrates. These illuminated films function as displays that show only the information immediately required by the driver, thus reducing distractions
There were advanced process technologies in evidence. For example, the BMW 5GT has a moveable trim part that is molded using the DirectCoating/DirectSkinning (DC/DS) process developed by Bayer with machine builder KraussMaffei. During the DC/DS process, the polycarbonate core is molded in one cavity, then the surface is flooded in-mold with polyurethane in a second cavity to produce the final part which features a colored, soft surface.
Good info from Bayer.