Qiantu is hardly a household name outside China (or, frankly, inside it yet). But the brand with the dragonfly logo produced two fascinating concepts at the Beijing show, designed by flamboyant ex-GM man Dan Darancou, who explained them to us.
One, the Concept I, is a luxury sedan designed for the well-heeled and chauffeur-driven with an innovative interior – and the other, the K20, is a cute sports car intended for their lucky offspring.
“We realised that many of the cars driven by young people here in China are not bought by them,” explained Dan. “There’s a tradition of giving cars as gifts, either as a birthday or coming-of-age present, or as a reward for passing exams or graduating from college. And there’s also an element of this being a car that the owner of our other concept, the luxury sedan, would buy to stop their youngsters driving that. ‘No, you can’t borrow my car – have one of your own...’”.
This doesn’t mean that the little sports coupé, slightly reminiscent of the Smart Roadster, is just a low-budget toy, It has some clever tricks of its own built in. There’s a boot-mounted drone, of course, for instant tech bonus points, but its brushed-aluminium finish is particularly worthy of mention – it’s not actually bare metal, though it looks highly convincing, but a wrap over the car’s composite panels. “You often see cars wrapped,” commented Dan, “but it’s usually a shiny chrome effect or something else really crass. In fact, this wrapping material is made by some very reputable companies like 3M, and they offer a huge range of finishes. The great thing with this method is that you can drop your car off at the dealer and pick it up the next day with an entirely different colour or finish. And of course it makes accident repair very easy.”
The interior also features swappable upholstery panels, and an interior fabric with a metallic sheen to complement the exterior, while there’s an impressively large, swooping expanse of glass forming the windscreen and much of the roof (“sadly unlikely to make it to production,” said Dan ruefully). However, there’s a little hope that regulations allowing cameras instead of mirrors may come into force soon, allowing the neat door-mounted arrangement to stay.
Meanwhile, across the stand was the Concept I, a sleek and elegant sedan with an attention-grabbing interior in two different colours and finishes – not split front to rear as is sometimes seen, but diagonally, in silver and gold. Why?
“We identified a certain type of customer for this car,” Dan revealed. “The wealthy business person – after all, it’s a high-end, premium car – who is chauffeur-driven during the week, but at the weekends wants to send the driver home and take the wheel themselves. And when they’re driving, they want a similar level of comfort to the passenger experience. So we’ve given one rear passenger seat extra legroom and premium upholstery, then taken that level of luxury over to the drivers’ environment. The trim colours mirror that; there’s a diagonal split which looks unusual but it’s for a perfectly logical reason.”
There are certainly plenty of entertaining ideas in the Qiantu concepts, and Dan has given them a very distinctive look (check out those wheels) which may help them get a foothold in their chosen market, the upmarket/luxury EV space. Take a look at the galleries at right to see more pictures of some of the most striking things from Beijing.