January 18, 2008 One of the oddest-looking, and most bizarrely named cars at the North American International Auto Show was an amphibious people carrier named the Detroit Fish, along with two other equally eccentric, electric car concepts, named the “Book of Songs” and “Piece of Cloud” respectively. All three come from the design studios of respected Chinese auto designer Li Guangming, who wants to create a unique Chinese design language, and he sees these rounded little cars as a starting point. “There will be no Chinese national cars of significance if the Chinese spirit is absent from their design,” he said. The Detroit Fish has a 3.5kW electric motor and Lithium Ion battery pack, giving a range of 150km and a top speed of 45kmh, making them ideal for “tourist spots, large communities, university campuses and small towns”.

Li’s dream is to create an iconic car for China that would be comparable to the Ford Model T in early 20th century America, or the VW Beetle in post-war Germany. He’s clearly a fan of the Beetle, and believes a “rounded, friendly” look is indicative of Chinese culture. While his concepts take this to extremes, you can see his point.

Furthermore, the three concepts – and others produced by Li’s Beijing-based consultancy – are all electric cars. He believes it is vital that China explores alternative energy sources. “If China and India burned gas at the same rate as the US, they would consume four times the fuel reserves of the entire planet. The future must point to the EV field – that’s one of the reasons why I’m exhibiting here at Detroit,” he said.

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