China is already the single biggest market for new cars, but soon it will be the biggest for new car designs too.
That’s the prediction of Silvio Pietro Angori, the CEO of legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina.
Speaking with Automotive News
(subscription required) recently, Angori revealed that China and Germany each account for roughly 35 percent of Pininfarina’s revenues, with a further 20 percent coming from Italy and the remainder coming from all other markets.
This is a breakup common to many other European design firms and it’s one that will become further skewed towards the Chinese market as the country’s automakers seek new, and more globally-focused designs for their cars.
Pininfarina was the first Western design firm to work with a Chinese automaker, having first entered the market back in 1996. Among its current list of clients in China are Jianghuai, Brilliance, FAW, Chery, Great Wall Motor, SAIC and Beijing Auto.
Another trend we’re likely to see is the establishment of more design centers in China. Here, Pininfarina is also a pioneer, having already established a studio in downtown Shanghai back in 2010. This is a trend that automakers have also followed, the latest being BMW, which recently opened one of its Designworks studios
With such a strong focus on China, it’s almost certain local tastes will start to influence the design of vehicles sold all over the world. We’ve already started to see this with the surge in the number of SUV and crossover vehicles being developed as well as rising numbers of four-door coupes and performance cars. As for specific styling elements, flashier grilles, extra chrome and intricate headlight designs are traits that are popular with Chinese buyers and have also been featuring on more and more cars of late.