Concept cars are a helpful thermometer for showing the Chinese car market's rapid progress recently. Sure, Chinese joint-ventures and domestic car brands can contract with the same European or American dream fabricators to make a stunning concept -- and they have many times in the past.
But as the home-grown industry evolves and matures, we are seeing much fresher local ideas than ever before. Local designs and local execution has been shown at the most recent Beijing and Guangzhou auto shows -- with a heavy focus on SUVs and crossovers since 2013.
That is the year when Chinese law changes made it easier to afford an SUV by exempting them from many of the taxes and restrictions put onto the sedan and compact car markets. The logical intention of these changes is unclear, but the result has been an explosion in SUV and crossover popularity among buyers.
One year in, and China buys far more cars and sedans than crossovers - with estimates of the soft-roaders taking about 10-percent of the 2014 market. But this is growing more than double versus year-ago numbers, and is set to continue building momentum. After all, there is much room to alter the category mix. Mature markets like the US have a 50/50 split between cars and light trucks.
The trucks group includes vans and crossovers and SUVs as well as traditional pickups. So far, China has embraced the crossover most heartily. Still efficient and small, but with a better view and more prestige than a Jetta or Passat, two hot sellers in China that are almost overexposed by their ubiquity as taxi-cabs.
So it is onto the crossover boom for Chinese-market brands. What are their latest ideas, and might any be sexy enough to earn shoppers outside their domestic strongholds?
You can judge for yourself, or course - but the Haval SUV is mighty clean and sexy, while and even the low-cost Chery SUV concept here is as sporty-looking as imaginable. The Toyota FAW EV and Haval PHEV Crossover should also worry the big names.
Most striking, perhaps, is the Acura SUV-X. Heavily tailored up front to Chinese-market style preferences -- the style is still newer than any Acura we have seen in the US lately.
These ideas will no-doubt lose much appeal on the road to production, but there is no better way to see into the future of the car market. Both in China and to the 100 global markets where Chinese car sales are booming.
Chinese-Market SUV and Crossover Concepts
MG Crossover Concept
Chery TX SUV Concept
HAVAL SUV Concept
Toyota-FAW EV Concept
Changan SUV Concept