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    The Challenges

    The auto market is seeing a huge technological transformation process. Now demands for electric vehicles are rapidly rising, representing an annual increase over 100%. Tesla entered into a local production agreement with the Shanghai Municipal Government in 2017. Like gas for fossil fuel-based vehicles, the charging station, with its availability and functionality, affects how electric vehicles will be deployed in China. As a key part of electronic vehicle deployment, the charging station shall complement perfectly the vehicles, aligning well in terms of make, shape, style, and user experience. Targeting middle to high-end vehicles, the charging station must reflect its unique market positioning and good experience through good design. Take Apple products for example. From packaging to accessories to the main Apple product itself, everything is in full display of the unique brand name experience and design language. Pan-Asia charging station design pursues exactly the same end. In doing so, SAIC GM Pan-Asia Auto Tech Center worked with S.POINT to improve its charging station design. Both parties looked to having a unique visual style for the electronic vehicle and the charging station. Also expected was better user experience and charging effectiveness. 

    The Solutions

    In buying an electronic car, the consumer makes a statement about his or her attitude to life. The consumer’s basic requirements include energy efficiency and ease-of-use. The limited availability of charging stations is indeed a challenge. With standard high-efficiency charging ports, Pan-Asia would get easier access to infrastructure and be better positioned to expand its market.

    S.POINT started from consumer insights. Classic industrial design in the auto sector were looked into. The principles of Pan-Asia charging philosophy were kept intact. Now the new design was a break-away from the bulky, clumsy tradition. The charging station was hollow inside. Visually, it was less bulky and boasted the same visual style with the electronic vehicles. In addition, the curved shape gave a sleek look, indicative power, energy, and speed befitting the auto industry.  

    S.POINT engineers and industrial designers worked together, using advanced computing and modeling technologies and taking into account of practicalities, to ensure stylish lines and curves of the charging station. Pan-Asia offers three brands to cover different markets. Our designers used different make and textures to distinguish between styles and characters.

    In terms of user experience, the design team added interactive LED lighting to the charging port, with different colors indicating charging stages. The visuals enhanced the user-friendliness of the charging process. 

    The Results

    Incremental design improvements came as a result of combining business insights and design thinking. When ensuring the best quality design output, S.POINT implemented small but meaningful innovations such as curves, textures and lighting, which combined to significantly enhance the overall user experience. 

    Committed to offering differentiated transportation experiences to the Chinese consumers, SAIC GM now boasts the most comprehensive new energy product line in China. S.POINT-designed charging station design will be launched together with new Buick and Chevrolet Plug-in Hybrid models in 2018 and 2019.

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