China has the largest projected automobile market in the world, expected to surpass the United States as the largest car market in the world by 2025. The combination of large population, a mass movement of citizens to cities, and a pollution crisis creates unique opportunities in China for automobile design. The first generations of Chinese to embrace the automobile have been attracted to them by the same values that have been embraced by the West such as prestige, a reflection of personal success, and a sense of freedom of movement. This attraction has given rise to traditional brands such as Buick, Audi and Mercedes Benz. However, as a new generation matures aware of China's problems presented by a growing number of automobiles, a shift is happening. Awareness of ecological issues, as well as an acute sense of forthcoming issues with traffic density inside and surrounding China's vast metropolises, suggests future generations are more willing to embrace alternative solutions. China has a young automotive identity, currently relating to aesthetic qualities of certain brands. Without the same historical narrative that has informed the rise of the car in the West, China is poised to create one that can respond more acutely to its needs. With fossil fuels the source of many potential problems in both pollution and cost of use, alternative energy vehicles will likely form the backbone of future growth of the automobile in China. Currently Toyota, GM, BMW, and Audi, to name a few, are actively pursuing alternative energy power plant designs. By 2020, alternative energy vehicles will make up a significant percentage of new vehicle sales in the Western world. Potential solutions come in the form of gas and diesel hybrids, all electric, hydrogen fuel cell and Hydrogen internal combustion engines. For a car to successfully meet the needs of Chinese consumers, it will need to be both ecologically friendly and highly maneuverable to maximize use of the limited space available on congested streets. The simple act of making a U-turn on a narrow street in a conventional four-wheeled vehicle can cause traffic jams. Additionally, automation in future thoroughfares can reduce the space between individual automobiles, effectively placing more vehicles in less space. This thesis establishes the need for rethinking the physical footprint of the automobile in the context of the Chinese market and provides a framework for a new vehicle design.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Automobiles--Design and construction; Automobile industry and trade--China--Forecasting; Automobiles--Environmental aspects; Automobiles--Dynamics

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Design (CIAS)


Morgan, David

Advisor/Committee Member

Rickel, Stan

Advisor/Committee Member

Sherman, Kim


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: TL240 .E95 2008


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