Advertisement

BMW Opens New Design Center In China: Is That A Good Thing?


Following on the heels of this week’s Beijing Auto Show, BMW has announced that it’s opening a new Designworks studio, with a Connected Drive Lab, in Shanghai’s upscale Huangpu District. The area is described as a commercial and financial center of one of the world’s fastest growing cities.

The Designworks studio joins BMW’s DesignworksUSA, which has served as a design hub for the BMW family of brands. It’s also provided its expertise in industrial design to such clients as the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, Embraer Legacy Jets and Sennheiser Earphones, to name just a few.

The Connected Drive Lab will share office space with the new Designworks studio, and its primary mission will be to further the development of ConnectedDrive functions relating to convenience, infotainment and safety. The lab will focus its development efforts on apps for the Chinese and Asian markets exclusively.

In the words of Laurenz Schaffer, president of BMW Group Designworks USA, “There’s tremendous insights for Designworks USA to gain in China... Creating this foothold for both BMW Group Design and Designworks USA in Shanghai is of great importance from both strategic and creative standpoints.”

We get it, to a certain degree: China is like the hot blond foreign exchange student with loose morals, while the automakers play the role of hormone-crazed teens. Each is falling over the other in order to get a date, or better yet land a more in-depth relationship.

Here’s what the automakers are forgetting: like the relationship with the exchange student, the growth in the Chinese market is likely temporary. Sure, it can leave you some great experiences and memories to recall in later years, but it seems a bit careless to put all your automotive eggs in the Chinese basket.

Maybe it’s sour grapes on our part, since no one seems to care about the U.S. or European markets these days, unless, of course, automakers are pitching cars to the uninterested and underemployed millennial buyer.

Here’s a reminder to automakers the world over: when the Chinese cool to your romantic advances, or when selling cars in China becomes cost-prohibitive thanks to ever-steepening tariffs, buyers in the U.S. and Europe will still be here. It’s probably not a good idea to forget about us completely.
Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (5)
  1. I honestly don't think the Chinese auto design industry have the same sensibilities as the South Koreans or Japanese.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  2. @gazzed, the real issue is this: automakers like BMW, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz (to name just three) are bending over backwards to serve customers in the Chinese market, which is currently viewed as the holy grail of new car sales. What happens when China runs out of newly-minted middle class buyers? What happens when China decides to implement expensive tariffs on non-domestic brands?

    Maybe I'm a prophet of doom, but I see both things occurring in the not-too-distant future.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. True but at the moment they are the flavor for a couple of months/years.. just sign of the times, Europe and America and are really feeding off the Chinese unless they get their finances back.
    Still stand by my opinion on my first comment.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. @ Kurt, well written but maybe a bit one-sided? It´s not as if the company pulls out of all other regions to only be in China from now on. Also, do not forget: Creativity needs to be nourished. And it florishes where new insights can be detected, where new impulses inspire designers... also, it´s not as if they headlessly opened an office years ago when everyone wanted to be in China....
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  5. @Replyer, fair enough, but it's hard to overlook all the manufacturers stumbling over themselves for a piece of the Chinese market. I agree that creativity needs to be nourished, but can you name a single Chinese automotive design that's on par with the BMW 507, the Jaguar E-Type or the Ferrari GTO? I certainly can't.

    Perhaps I'm influenced by all the "special edition" cars created for the Chinese market, too. It seems as if anything with "Dragon" in the name will sell, so long as its adorned with lots of gold trim.

    What remains to be seen is the staying power of the Chinese market, and (in my opinion, anyway) investing there still poses risks for the automakers.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement

Take Us With You!

 
Advertisement
Advertisement

Research New Cars

Go!


 
© 2014 MotorAuthority. All Rights Reserved. MotorAuthority is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.