Chinese Carmaker Cowin Auto Pioneers a New Model for Car Design and Production through Crowdsourcing

The Automaker Collects Design Ideas from the Public and Invites the Public to Vote for the Most Popular Submissions

Dec 10, 2015, 09:34 ET from Cowin Auto

WUHU, China, Dec. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- China has become the world's largest market for automobiles, with over 100 million vehicles currently registered. Major auto manufacturers worldwide regard the country as a key market and have been aggressively competing for market share through a combination of directly imported vehicles and those made by joint ventures locally in the country. Models manufactured by joint ventures have led to further reductions in car prices, putting huge pressure on China's homegrown auto brands. As a result, the homegrown brands have been looking at transforming their businesses, in the hope of finding a new path for development. An illustration of that effort can be found at Cowin Auto, a Wuhu-based carmaker established in January 2014. This relatively new entrant into the field has tried out a new idea that is gaining traction: applying the crowdsourcing model to the design of an automobile by outsourcing the work of the design of the vehicle to the public via the Internet. The carmaker asks members of the general public to vote for the most popular model and then follows on the results of the poll to put the winning design into mass production.

August 2014 - The crowdsourcing design idea is conceived

Cowin Auto has advocated the crowdsourcing concept since the launch of the brand in August 2014. Cowin Crowdsourcing aims to create an open car design and production platform that features decentralization and disintermediation. The platform collects design drawings from the public and turns winning designs into products, with the expectation that the involvement of the general public in the process will significantly improve market acceptance.

February 2015 - Consultation with media insiders

Prior to the formal launch of the project, Cowin Auto invited leading journalists who specialize in the automotive sector to listen to a presentation on the concept and get their feedback. Not only did the journalists signal their approval, based on their years of expertise that they developed reporting on the trends and developments in China's automotive sector, they weighed in with their own advice on how to follow through on the development of the idea.

April 2015 - Meeting with representatives from colleges and universities

Cowin Auto invited professors and students from universities and colleges across China in April to discuss the project. The representatives, all of whom majored in automobile engineering and design, gave the nod to the project in terms of the technology and the idea. In terms of technology, the project removes the barrier between public design and industrial-level production. In terms of the idea, the project leverages untapped forces of creativity that reside in each and every individual.

July 28, 2015 - Cowin Auto's crowdsourcing platform opens to the public

Cowin Auto's crowdsourcing platform was officially launched on July 28th. To date the site has received over one million page views and logged 120,000 visitors. The crowdsourcing platform distributed design tasks to the members of the public who have expressed interest, divvying up the work into 13 tasks for different sections of the vehicle, including both the vehicle's exterior and interior. Nearly one hundred million individuals received invitations to participate. To date, 1,216 individuals have participated, submitting 280 designs. Some submitters worked collectively to submit their proposal, while others chose to work solo.

August 31, 2015 - Cowin Smart Connected Institute unveils its nameplate

The crowdsourcing project was deemed a success and proved particularly appealing to younger members of the audience who chose to participate. Cowin Smart Connected Institute formally  announced its smart connected brand iCAR in Shanghai on August 31, 2015. In terms of the resource integration, Cowin Smart Connected Institute now has many reputed strategic partners, including Foxconn, China Telecom, iFLYTEK, TimaNetworks, Careland and ITE, all of whom have come together to cooperate with Cowin on software, hardware, telecommunication services, voice recognition, map navigation and online solutions.

September 30, 2015 - Cowin Auto rolls out the automotive design drafts crowdsourcing project

After 65 days of review, the judges of the crowdsourcing project selected 104 entries, then followed with a public voting campaign where members of the general public chose their preferred design through a multiple of online channels, including the company's crowdsourcing website and WeChat. Many auto fans, specialists and reputed experts in the field participated in the campaign and cast their votes. The top three designs were finally selected based on two key criteria: the overall appearance and the design of the interior. According to the feedback received on Cowin Auto's crowdsourcing platform alone, more than 100 million car lovers delivered over one million clicks.

Italy's ED Group, an internationally well-known automotive design company, sent an official letter requesting to take part in Cowin Auto's crowdsourcing project and uploaded several design drafts incorporating both Cowin's and Chinese elements onto the Chinese car brand's crowdsourcing platform. ED, the largest independent engineering design company in Italy, is currently developing new models for large automotive OEMs in China, Europe and the U.S.

What is the next step for Cowin Auto?

The winning entry has been selected and Cowin Auto will provide professional training and guidance for the winning designer, who will receive professional training on site in Italy through a series of intensive exchanges with ED in preparation for turning the design into reality. The winning design will be turned into a full scale clay model after further evaluation and improvement, and will debut at the Beijing Motor Show 2016. The winning design that will be put into mass production is expected to be launched in 2018. 

About Cowin Auto

Cowin Auto has been committed to creating smart cars for young customers based on its focus on the youth market and a corporate philosophy that emphasizes innovation and integrity. With a focus on customer needs, the company integrates quality resources and maintains an asset-light strategy by leveraging the internet and all modern forms of communication in terms of its processes both in design and in execution. The company's portfolio covers a variety of market segments, including sedans, SUVs, MPVs and cross-over vehicles.

Cowin Auto, with a total investment of 2 billion yuan (USD325 million), was established and invested in by Chery Holding Co. in January, 2014. The brand has differentiated itself from traditional carmakers since its inception by leveraging a series of innovative efforts, including integrating the crowdsourcing concept into the research and development process, introducing a smart strategy and launching a free maintenance service (regardless of the number of miles driven) together with its partners.

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