Electric Vehicles : From China, a shot across Tesla’s bow

Whether it’s designing Lifans that look like Mini Coopers or Geelys that look like Rolls-Royce Phantoms, Chinese automotive stylists have an uncomfortable history of cribbing Western designs for their cars. Those embarrassing days may be drawing to a close, however. What you see here is the first concept car from LeSee, a new automotive division of the Chinese tech company LeEco formerly known as Letv. And it is absolutely stunning.

The unveiling in Beijing on 21 April included no mention of production plans for LeSee (the ‘See’ in its name stands for “Super Electric Ecosystem”), and LeEco CEO Jia Yueting was concept-car hazy when it came to quoting specifications, although he did offer a fairly impressive demo of the car’s self-driving and self-parking features by speaking commands into his app-connected smartphone. No surprise, the car is packed to its glass roof (one piece, from the windscreen to the rear window) with futuristic glitz, including face- and emotion-recognition features, shape-shifting seats, a bumper-level external LED display and colour-changing lighting, and a segmented steering wheel that folds away during autonomous operation to free up cabin space. It’s enough to make a Tesla Model S look downright ordinary.

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