Beijing is right now the most important auto show in the world, because it links carmakers and the buying public to the most important auto market in the world. GM plans to open 600 dealerships in China this year.
The show is also significant for giving companies like Honda, whose fortunes have declined, a chance to show off concepts that may lead the way back.
The company brought an interesting Concept S hybrid minivan (above), whose name signifies, Honda says, “stylish,” “smart” and “surprise.” I guess that’s better than “slow,” “stinky” and “shoddy.”
This is a sharp-looking minivan design in which Honda finally seems to have gotten a good basic shape without screwing up the details (except for the front driving lights and some kind of jet-exhaust rear reflector things under the well-designed taillights). The car will debut in China next year, then go global.
Then Honda pulled out all the stops for the Concept C (below right, and meaning “cool,” “challenge” and “China”). They might have also used “confused,” as this thing is a hodge-podge of design mistakes, though I think the basic body treatment is good.
The Chinese may like that baroque, grinning front end; such outrageous design bling, however, will never be popular in the U.S. or Europe. (Well, I’m not so sure about the U.S.) The car will fit somewhere between the Accord and Civic, perhaps as a new model. Production starts next year.
The Chinese are welcome to the Concept C, however it turns out. But the S might just be Honda’s way back into the U.S. market for a neat hybrid minivan.
Does Honda’s new styling show signs of progress? Could either of these cars be a success in the U.S.?