General Motors announced the opening of its GM China Advanced Design Center after a major expansion and upgrade, which allows it to double local design capacity.
As for the main reason behind the expansion, the company mentions an ongoing effort to ramp up battery-electric vehicle development.
This facility will be GM's key to develop new all-electric and autonomous vehicles in China.
"With a more flexible creative space as well as advanced technologies, processes and specialized equipment, the team will focus on envisioning future designs of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and beyond, drawing inspiration from China – the world’s largest new energy vehicle market – and maintaining stewardship of design frontiers."
According to Reuters, the new site will no longer design petrol vehicles. Conventional cars will be gradually removed from the lineup by 2035.
The size of the studio nearly doubled to 5,000 m2 and it was equipped with the latest tools and solutions to develop a compelling new product for modern times.
"The upgraded Advanced Design Center has a flexible, open layout that pushes the boundaries of modern design. It offers an immersive experience by fusing digitally and spatially interactive designs, an atrium with variable color temperatures and 27 rotating glass doors. This all comes together to create an avant-garde, sensory and inspirational creative space for the new generation of automotive designers to reimagine future mobility.
Revolutionary hardware and software such as Ultium and the Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP) have provided a blank canvas for designers to innovate and develop EVs. The upgraded 5,000-square-meter Advanced Design Center includes two full-size milling platforms; a color, material and finish (CMF) studio; a head-mounted-display (HMD) studio; a virtual reality room; and a patio, making it among the most advanced facilities of its kind in China.
It will help designers create mobility concepts suitable for the new era, leveraging techniques that include conceptual innovation, digital design, VR and immersive technology applications with physical full-size models, as well as design verification."
Only time will tell how well the plan of electrification will be executed. In 2019, GM's joint ventures (50/50 SAIC-GM) and SAIC-GM-Wuling (joint venture between SAIC, GM and Liuzhou Wuling Motors) sold about 50,000 EVs. In 2020 that number increased to about 170,000 thanks to entry-level, affordable models.
So far, the company is not yet selling full-size electric cars in high volume (there are some BEVs on the market, but far behind the market leaders), which probably will change once the Ultium platform will arrive.