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Auto Special: Volkswagen crowdsources auto design

Updated: 2012-11-27 08:07
By Xu Xiao ( China Daily)

 Auto Special: Volkswagen crowdsources auto design

Guangzhou Auto Show visitors experience new ideas and designs about future life and vehicles on the augmented reality game of 'the City of Imagination'.


Chinese consumers are helping create the cars of the future through their participation in Volkswagen's The People's Car Project.

The project is one means by which the German automaker aims to inject new vitality into its brand after more than 30 years in the Chinese market.

Through this program, the company seeks to attract new customers, especially youth, who will form the basis for the brand's continued development in the market.

Tailor-made for Chinese customers, The People's Car Project draws on consumer feedback to inspire future automotive designs, said Alexei Orlov, chief marketing officer for Volkswagen Group China, in an exclusive interview with China Daily last Friday during the ongoing Guangzhou auto show.

'The City of Imagination'

At the show, a special exhibit called 'The City of Imagination' at Volkswagen's exhibition booth uses augmented reality technology to showcase key auto innovation ideas contributed by users of The People's Car Project.

The 15 virtual 3D cars that populate 'The City of Imagination' incorporate 100 innovative automotive designs from the project's official website. Visitors can choose any one of the cars and participate in a simulated drive through this city of the future.

In addition to this innovative augmented reality landscape, a promotional The People's Car Project film starred by four top Chinese creative artists - a director and photographer, a rock band singer, an architect and a designer.

The four artists' creative perspectives represent the company's pursuit of innovation, according to event organizers.

"Innovation" and "dialogue" are the two key words of the project, which started last May.

The most important aspect of the project is the dialogue it creates between the automaker and the Chinese customers, said Orlov.

"A brand that listens is a brand that learns," he said.

Orlov said the goals of the project and the company's drive to increase its brand value go hand in hand.

He said the project has helped the company understand what Chinese customers want, allowing it to improve products and services at every stage of car production.

One thing the company has learned from the program is that there is a growing concern among the Chinese public about the environment. About half of the automotive designs are solutions to vehicle pollution and traffic congestion in future cities.

Chinese also care for their community and think of how to give back to society, Orlov added.

"They want a better China, not just celebrating, but also caring for, the future," he said.

To date, the project's official website has received more than 160,000 automotive designs from Chinese Internet users, and 11 million people have registered on the official website to follow the project.

Orlov said he is impressed by the Chinese people's desire to go beyond the norm.

'A joyful thing'

"The car is a joyful thing," he said, noting that Volkswagen is not only concerned with making cars but also hopes to improve people's lives.

On the People's Car Project website, Chinese people not only talk about cars but also family, love, music, travel and other beautiful things in life.

"We are very exited about what will happen next," he noted.

In the next stage, users, students and China's creative talent will integrate top ideas from The People's Car Project into one design that will premiere at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show.

But this is only the beginning, Orlov said, adding that Volkswagen will continue to listen closely to the thoughts of Chinese consumers about automotive designs as well as life and the future.

In 2012, Volkswagen maintained its growth momentum in China. From January to October this year, it delivered 2.26 million vehicles in China, increasing 19.6 percent from the same period of 2011. The Volkswagen brand sold 1.71 million units, increasing 18.4 percent from a year ago.

Jochem Heizmann, president and CEO of Volkswagen China and board member of Volkswagen Group, said that the company will constantly provide innovative products and technologies to the Chinese market, focus on corporate social responsibility and help China's automotive industry to achieve sustainable development in the future.