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This interesting article from FastCompany.com follows the story of Joe Qiu, known as "Shanghai Joe" within General Motors where he works at the company's Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) in Shanghai as a car designer. Qiu and a relatively small, inexperienced team of designers were responsible for the current version of the Buick LaCrosse sold in China (shown above). This year the car is expected to sell 110,000 units in China, while it's counterpart in name only sold just 71,072 units in the U.S. during 2006.

The story of GM's Chinese-based design team is certainly a rags to riches one that will culminate in the next few years with PATAC's designing the world's next Buick LaCrosse, due out in 2008 or 2009. As is the custom at GM these days, design chief Ed Welburn pitted his 11 design centers from around the world against each other for the privilege of penning the next LaCrosse. The favored North American team and the underdog Chinese team were clear favorites with the majority of good ideas, so Welburn chose to have both work on the design. The North American team will handle the exterior, while the smaller Chinese team will design the interior. The Chinese designers, though, will also have significant input on the car's exterior since it's expected that China will quickly be Buick's biggest market worldwide.

We think that's just fine, as we reported last November that the Chinese LaCrosse is way cooler than ours. Indeed, the PATAC team's designs are world class compared to the derivitive and downright ugly designs coming from many of China's young automakers. Will the Chinese market one day set trends for the world market? It's a scary though, but who knows? If Joe Qiu becomes the next Ed Welburn at GM, however, things will likely be alright.

[Source: FastCompany.com]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      RJ- "This is truly hilarious. A Buick, designed in China for the American market (And on top of that, a nice looking Buick design for a change.) GM has finally hit rock bottom for sure.......

      What's next, the Shanghai Silverado.

      American Revolution my ass, previously the Mexican Revolution, now the Chinese Revolution...."

      Let's be clear, just because it is a GM design studio in China, doesn't mean it is a "chinese" design. At GM, most dersigners and engineers go on what are called ISPs, which are rotations (sometimes several years at a time) to the many GM studios throughout the world. It is a global market, and therefore GM has a team made up of people from all over the world. The U.S. studios have designers from China, Korea, Japan, U.S., Germany, Jordan, India, etc. etc. Let's not forget that it is an American company, so regardless of the nationality of the people involved, or the location of the studio, the final say and direction is truely American, with the money coming back to AMERICA. If you people want to fight over what percentage of a car is American product vs. foreign, go ahead, but in the end, if it is a foreign company, the money goes to a foreign country...and that is a FACT.

      BTW, RJ is a toolbox
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looks far nicer than the U.S. Lacrosse. Shame on GM. This car would sell well here as a modern day Taurus.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Chinese designers?

      How American can this car get!

      Its an American Revolution!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hmm, you've resorted to personal insults, over the internet no less. Nice one! And keep skewing what I say while your at it. Call me "un-american" call me what you want. The fact remains that the domestic brands have forced me to the imports with sub-par quality and thoughtless designs. Yes, GM and Ford seem to be turning around, albeit very slowly and maybe one day again I can consider a domestic brand. But time and time again I have been let down by American quality while at the same time my 15 year old Toyota starts every day, never breaks down, and still delivers a decent driving experience. Sorry to tell you Lithios, but I made a conscious decision as an American to buy the "better" product. That is the only product I will ever buy and it is my given right as an American to choose the better product. American's who purchase inferior products for patriotic reasons are only doing the domestic manufacturers a disservice by leading them to believe that they do not need innovation to succeed. I have no loyalty to any brand, all I ask for is a quality product, a good price, and a nice driving experience. Until the domestics can truly offer me that I will continue driving my Toyota and Honda.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just for the record, using model year 2006 sales figures to give an annual perspective, sales of 'domestic' Toyotas were down 5.1%, while sales of 'import' Toyotas were up 106.8% for an increase of 162,751 vehicles. Toyota sold a total of 82,597 hybrids in 2006, which accounts for 51% of the increase in imports.

      Sales of 'domestic' Hondas were down 2.9% (-18,112 units) while 'import' Honda sales were up 52.7% (37,964 units). Honda hybrid sales were down 14%, by the way, as they sold 5,839 fewer hybrids in 2006 than they did in 2005.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "American's who purchase inferior products for patriotic reasons are only doing the domestic manufacturers a disservice by leading them to believe that they do not need innovation to succeed."

      Well said.

      The headlights on that Buick are very derivative of Maybach. The whole seems like a derivative of some other generic car. Not that the US LaCrosse is any better, but dang I'd be smirking if that thing ever got sold here.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It looks a lot better than the current American LaCrosse, much more on par with Buick's other designs. Good job Joe and team.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Now lithious is telling me to shut up,"

      Yes, a valid suggestion IMO. If A=B and B=C then A=C. If manufacturing, and especially U.S. car companies, helped build this country then why would you bad mouth them? To further help destroy our manufacturing? I.E. trade 2000 jobs for 10000 or more every time? You are only accomplishing destruction. BTW, you're really on the ball there, you have typed the wrong username for me a couple times now. Are you that astute when comparing domestic vs import vehicles? I figured as much.

      "I guess if you consider laying off American workers in the tens of thousands and sending their jobs to Mexico a service, then you're absolutely right."

      You are one of those guys that don't understand how life works I see. Those bad guys are sending all kinds of jobs to Mexico and all the while profits are just BOOMING! You don't get that it is because the competition that GM is forced to cancel jobs? And the only jobs that have gone to Mexico in probably 20 years are the Saturn VUE jobs which will happen for next model year. From what I understand they are revamping the factory for other things. Other than that the new Solstice/Sky (brand new) came to the U.S. and Aura and all the hybrid stuff you say is from Japan for everyone else, all went to America. GM builds their hybrid components in Baltimore MD from what I have read (source: http://news.thomasnet.com/companystory/474750) I believe that includes the currently on the road VUE components as well. So the story IS NOT that GM gets rid of jobs here and moves things to Mexico (very extremely rare) and doesn't build anything new here. Absolutely not true.

      But no, it is the days of Moore and huge GM profits with factory close downs anyway. Though GM is damned for not downsizing quick enough and their are damned if they jetison jobs. Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me.

      far jr
      • 8 Years Ago
      Toyota Domestic buit cars dropped 3.4 percent through February 2007 while Toyota import built cars was up 54.8 percent through February 2007. Looks like Toyota is building fewer in the US and importing more. Through February, 63,609 Camrys have been sold... only 47,834 Camrys were domestically produced. What percent of the imported Camry parts were made in the US and Canada?

      • 8 Years Ago

      I think you're the one who needs to get their facts straight. The FACT is that 80% of the Camry's parts are from the USA/Canada. That is a FACT.


      At least back your "facts" up with a source.

      This is truly hilarious. A Buick, designed in China for the American market (And on top of that, a nice looking Buick design for a change.) GM has finally hit rock bottom for sure.......

      What's next, the Shanghai Silverado.

      American Revolution my ass, previously the Mexican Revolution, now the Chinese Revolution....
      • 8 Years Ago
      There's a fundamental reason why Buicks will always do better in China than Toyota or Honda.

      The chinese HATE the japanese. And it's only a matter of time before China annexes Japan :)
      • 8 Years Ago
      "If by 'doing more for this country' you mean cutting wages, closing factories and leaving entire communities decimated in their wake, and shipping production to Mexico and China, then yes, the Big Three have done quite a bit for this country."

      There's djsindumb again. Who cried about me in months past but insists on coming back for more. Please, do not cry this time, OK?

      If you can only see what you mention above then you have to be a 15 year old. Honestly. So, for the 100 years GM and Ford have been around that is all they have done? Close factories and leave those decimated? REALLY? Seriously, that is how a teenager or younger acts. Ignoring the whole (i.e. the whole 100 years of history) and making a statement.

      Simple: Americans are brainwashed to believe that Toyota and Honda are the greatest thing since slice bread. Many ignore American vehicles even if they are right up there or sometimes better than the competition. This causes plant closings eventually.

      Yup, even SC Johnson ("a family company") is moving factories down below the border. But of course, GM is the guy. They invented closing plants when sales are down. It is their fault that the Aura gets NA car of the year but sell a fraction of the Camry. Yup, totally GM's fault. It is GM's fault when the GEO and Corolla come off the same assembly line and in the U.S. (not a foreign country, but in the good ole patriotic U.S.A.) the Corolla outsold the GEO/Chevy version. Yup, totally GM's fault.

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