China's Blatant Corvette C1 Copy Headlines Electric Retro Concepts From Beijing Motor Show
In order to improve its air quality while boosting the economy, China is rapidly replacing its huge domestic vehicle fleet with locally-built electrified alternatives. The 2020 Beijing Motor Show—social distancing be damned—showcased what the near-future holds for Chinese motorists as a result. However, regardless of the new hybrid and BEV powertrains, the…inspired design movement remains as strong as ever over there.
Dropping the microphone at the annual Beijing show, local Songsan Motors announced that for the equivalent of $86,000, it will now offer the SS Dolphin, an almost exact plug-in hybrid copy of the four-headlamp 1958 Chevrolet Corvette C1. Powered by the combination of a 1.5-liter turbo engine and an electric motor fed by a 16-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the SS Dolphin comes with LED lights and a removable hardtop on a body that’s 11.8 inches longer and 3.7 inches taller than Chevrolet’s sports car penned over six decades ago. Thanks to its combined output of 315 horsepower, it’s faster too, with a zero to 62 mph time rumored to be under five seconds. Back in 1958, the same stunt took the V8-powered C1 around seven seconds.
Just like the classic’s, the SS Dolphin’s hardtop fits in the trunk.
Of course Songsan Motors wouldn’t stop at copying the facelifted first-generation Corvette, since using the same technology, it could also create a strange VW bus wannabe. Songsan’s practical “Kombi” features not only a nose Volkswagen refused to put on its van even when the T2 went water-cooled for the Brazilian market, but also the same Westfalia-style roof tent and versatile seat layout we’ve all loved since the 1950s original.
Songsan Summer: The Volkswagen T1 70 years later, since China just can’t hold its breath until 2022, when VW actually gets to produce its ID Buzz microbus.
Moving on from Songsan Motors’ Detroit and Wolfsburg-inspired hybrids, let’s take a look at Great Wall Motors’ latest concept, the Futurist.
Great Wall Motors has been around since 1984, currently producing vehicles under the Haval, Wey, Ora and Great Wall brands. According to Car News China, this latest of theirs is built on the group’s unfortunately named “Lemon” platform, which can accommodate internal combustion, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and fuel cell powertrains as well. Apparently, the Futurist project was also guided by former Land Rover designer Phil Simmons, who is responsible for Haval’s Big Dog SUV as well.
On the outside, this premium electric sedan features suicide doors with frameless windows, pop-out door handles and wire wheels, while power comes from a cobalt-free battery granting a range of 435 miles. Not bad, Great Wall—not bad!
Finally, there’s the LEVC London cab revamped by one of the most outrageous Mercedes-Benz tuners out there, Lorinser.
Just like Lotus, the London EV Company—formerly known as the London Taxi Company—is owned by Chinese carmaker Geely these days. Its whole deal was to create a new EV platform inside the European Union (whoops!) that can be used not only as the base of these next-generation zero-emission TX taxi cabs but also for lightweight commercial vehicles such as delivery vans, pickup trucks and airport shuttles.
When it came to the question of a TX for China, the third-generation Lorinser company of Germany went for a two-tone paint job, orange accents inside the cabin and the Rolls-Royce Black Badge-shaming hood ornament of our cab driving dreams.
Needless to say, these cars are far from being the wildest concepts and tuners cars of the 2020 Beijing Motor Show. However, with Geely and Great Wall in the mix, they are some of the most plausible. As for Songsan Motors and its twisted hybrid fantasies, chance would be a fine thing, a fine thing indeed.
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