Designed in America. Revealed in China.
Buick continues to have god-like status in China and GM never misses an opportunity to take full advantage of this. Introducing the GL8 Flagship concept and the Smart Pod concept, both revealed to the world late last week at the Guangzhou Auto Show in China. Only one, however, is expected to make production, the GL8 Flagship. It previews the next-generation MPV that's been on sale in China for several years. Designed in Shanghai, the concept's exterior boasts sculpted surfaces, a panoramic roof with a glass canopy extending from front to back for better aero, and wing-shaped headlights.
The interior is equally cool with Zero gravity-like lounge seats and a flexible seating layout enabling more open space. This is made possible thanks to GM's Ultium EV platform which also underpins the new GMC Hummer EV and many additional upcoming models.
A tea tray, a huge 30-inch driver-centric display, a touchscreen integrated into the steering wheel, and a head-up display can also be found inside. The audio system's speakers are even integrated into the headrests.
Next up is the Smart Pod concept, a very futuristic-looking van "that looks at the full potential of advanced technologies in electrification, automated driving and digitalized connectivity, delivered in a warm, tactile and luxurious manner," according to Buick. Also built on the Ultium architecture, it features a sleek exterior with micro-LED lighting tech and a wake-up lighting animation that occupants experience as they enter through the sliding doors.
Inside they'll find an airy roof, lots of glass, fully reclining seats, and a "multi-variable" seating layout. GM went for a lounge-like experience to complement the AI-enabled virtual cockpit.
Things like deployable tables, a sound management system, an air purifying system, a 50-inch retractable retina LED screen, and plenty of premium and natural materials make this more like a home living room rather than a car. The smart cabin is further equipped with voice command and advanced eye-tracking technology. The exterior styling is pretty radical but the concept's tech features are probably more likely to see production in some form.
Interestingly, the Smart Pod concept was styled at GM's Advanced Design Studio here in the US. Regardless of where (or if) it makes production, the Smart Pod is an early preview of what our future transportation is going to look and feel like from the inside.