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Shanghai show: Chevrolet FNR a showroom chance

Star is born: Chevrolet's Chinese-designed FNR sporty four-seater concept could provide the shape of a future GM product aimed at a younger generation.

Sleek Chevrolet FNR sports sedan the shape of the future, says GM's Welburn

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Chevrolet logo21 Apr 2015

By RON HAMMERTON in SHANGHAI

GET excited, General Motors fans – the shapely star of the Shanghai motor show, Chevrolet's futuristic FNR concept, is a chance for production in a hosed-down form.

It might not get the gee-whiz dragon-fly swing doors or the magnetic hubless electric motor wheels, but the overall concept has the blood pumping at America's biggest motor company.

GM vice-president of design Ed Welburn told GoAuto in Shanghai that although he could not guarantee that the more far-out aspects of the concept would make it into showrooms, the four-seat, coupe-style sports car design was a prospect for production.

“We will definitely see something this expressive at some point,” he said.

“The wheels ... I don't know. But I can more guarantee that the shape of this car, or something like that, will make it into production. But not this year.”

Mr Welburn described the FNR project – done by a team of young designers in GM's Pan Asia Technical Automotive Centre (PATAC) studios in Shanghai – as “very strategic on our part”.

“The very same teams that are working on our production vehicles, they have to have the opportunity to pull out all the stops and just do a wild and expressive concept vehicle,” he said.

“Even as it is, there is a lot we can learn from this, to apply to a production vehicle – the lighting front and rear, the seat design … there is just so much that is good for our production designers to work on.”

The FNR is said to be an electric car, armed with autonomous driving capability, wireless automatic battery charging, iris recognition starting and other technologies straight out of GM's skunkworks.

A production version might provide GM's answer to Honda's plug-in hybrid NSX and similar new-age sportscars, helping to attract a new generation of sports sedan lovers who would not consider a big-iron Corvette or Camaro.

Mr Welburn said most Chevrolet buyers these days are aged under 35, meaning the brand needed to look to products appealing to the younger group.

But he said a car such as the FNR did not require young designers, just those young at heart.

The FNR was handled in Shanghai to the clay model stage, but the build job – a complex and demanding project – was contracted out by GM to an unnamed supplier.

In the flesh, the vehicle is gob-smacking, with wild, sharp angles, huge air scoops, evil “eyes” and beautiful proportions. Yet, it is undoubtedly Chevrolet.

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