It won’t have escaped your notice that China’s automakers are coming up with some pretty nifty designs right now (to make up for the simple and weird ones). After going through the same struggle to find its own identity that Korean automakers had to go through a couple of decades ago, China seems to have figured out how to build cars that often look just as cool as those that come from its European, Japanese and American countries. Americans. American rivals.
And one of the reasons is that China’s automakers not only attract executives and engineers from Western auto companies, but also designers. Some of these designers may be unknown to people who work outside of the auto industry, but as journalist Greg Kable points out, we’re all familiar with their work, even if we’re not familiar with their name or face.
One such designer is Nader Faghihzadeh, who joined Changan’s Avatr EV brand in 2019, and whose 011 electric crossover sports car was revealed last month. It features 750-volt charging technology, autonomous technology equipped with Huawei Inside LiDAR, can accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.98 seconds (the marketing department clearly couldn’t round it down to 4), and promises up to 423 miles (680 km) on China’s upbeat CLTC cycle.
Related: Avatr 11 launches in China with 578 HP and up to 422-mile range
The name Nader Faghihzadeh will not be familiar to everyone. But the designs of him will be. Over 17 years in @BMW, worked on many concepts and production cars. In 2017 he moved to #Changan. He became chief designer of Changan’s Avatr EV brand in 2019. The 011 is Avatr’s first production model. pic.twitter.com/qiZPQ6sl6f
But equally interesting is its crossover design, particularly the rear end, which manages to meld SUV and sedan styling cues to create a car that looks unlike any other crossover on the road. And looking unlike any other crossover is a huge win when just about every car on the road it is a crossing
Before moving to China, Faghihzadeh spent 17 years at BMW and I must admit I hadn’t heard of him. As is often the case with car companies, the chief designer is often credited for a brand’s styling successes (and failures) when the reality is that there is always a large team of talented designers working quietly in the background.
A look at Faghihzadeh’s Linkedin profile reveals that he has been involved in almost every major BMW product, from the i3S concept, i8 Roadster and iNext to the X3 and X4, 6 Series Coupe, Gran Coupe and Convertible, and shaped the the interior or exterior appearance of various generations of the 7 Series.
And Faghihzadeh isn’t the only designer to jump from west to east. We have no doubt that China is developing its own homegrown design talent, but attracting established stylists and then leaving them free to show what they can actually do without the need to heed historic brand design cues is one way to accelerate the acceptance and attractiveness of Chinese industry in Western markets.
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