Beijing 2018: The refreshing Chang An Oshan

02 May 2018 | by Chris Maillard

Of all the cars on show in Beijing, the Chang An Oshan stood out as being possibly the most futuristic and intriguing. Though there were many, many concepts of all kinds in the halls, from luridly mad to tediously serious, the Oshan had an air of mystery, serenity and cool all of its own. At first glance not entirely dissimilar to the Icona Nucleus, in reality it lacked the other car’s sense of imposing bulk and added some characterful, human-centric touches.

The Oshan brand, presently just a subsidiary of Chang An, is apparently planned to be spun off as a separate entity in the near future. If this is its creative direction, that should be very interesting. The man setting that direction is Design Director Jaromir Cech, an RCA graduate whose career has taken him from his home brand Skoda via Ford to Toyota’s ED2 studio, and who is now running the Chinese brand.

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Externally, the Oshan concept follows the trend for whiteness and a rounded monovolume architecture. It also features the almost obligatory display screens for charging status and driving mode at front and rear, slim colour-changing LED strips around the perimeter coordinating with an illuminated graphic on the front, and exaggerated, badged, wheel spats. The plus-sized gullwing doors are also very on-trend (see also HK/Pininfarina), and the protruding, semi-separate wings are a little Nissan IMx-like. All told, there’s a lot that we’ve also seen elsewhere. But there’s a rationale behind many of the choices. And, given that it’s supposed to be electrically-powered, what are those rather intricate air intake grilles doing at bumper level front and rear?

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The clue is in one of the body-mounted graphics, which reads ‘Clean Air’.  “One of the ideas of this car,“ reveals Jaromir,  “is that it actively cleans the air as it drives along. Rather than create pollution, it should remove it – sucking in dirty air at the front, purifying it, then releasing it as exhaust, cleaner than it went in.” 

This concept is replicated inside too – the striking mushroom-shaped object, roughly where a centre console might be, is actually a parabolic air filter.  “We knew we would need an internal air filter, says Jaromir, “so we thought why not make a feature out of it?”

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Other eye-catching features of the interior are the splayed strips of wood which start halfway along the cabin roof and arc gracefully down to the rear shelf, visible through the frosted rear screen and somehow giving it a very zen ambience. “Those were inspired by tree branches,“ explains the designer, “or more specifically by the light and shade cast by trees. They give a dappled, striped shade which is very relaxing.”

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The seating is flexible, with foldable seat/footstools in the centre (mildly reminiscent of a modern Mk I Renault Espace), a traditional bench seat in the rear, and a pair of separate seats at the front. A split, it emerges, that is strictly along generational lines.  “The concept here is all about the different generations of a family,” says the designer. “the grandparents can sit in the back, under a shaded canopy. The parents can share a more active view at the front, and the children can run or play between the two. 

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“That also follows through to the door – it forms a porch or roof so that the grandparents don't have to get wet if they get out when it's raining.” That concept continues all the way through to a cute little umbrella cubby in the pillar, which is a neat touch.

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 And of course there’s high technology involved – in this case in the form of an Oshan phone app which you can customise to suit your own preferences. Wherever you sit in the car, it will recognise your own digital signature – as signalled by the coloured ring around each seat – and adjust the car’s lighting, sound and ventilation to suit.

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There are even more ideas – more than we have space for here – but take a look at the gallery at right to see more on the Oshan’s thought-provoking architecture and interesting interior treatment. If this is the first shot from a new brand, the rest of their range should be fascinating.

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Beijing 2018