Former BMW design chief Chris Bangle told us at the Frankfurt show in September that he is back in the car design business after many years, and now we see the result — a tall, boxy truly mini-van that is a bit longer than a Smart ForTwo.
Called REDS, it was created for Chinese heavy-truck and bus manufacturer China Hi-Tech Group. REDS was designed for sitting in Chinese traffic, according to Chris Bangle Associates, the independent design house Bangle now heads.
Interior space management is key: The seat configuration, including a driver's seat that spins around, allows seating for four adults when moving and five when stopped. There's also space for one or two suitcases.
How did Bangle come up with the bizarre contours? In Frankfurt, he related a story about one of his designers, a veteran stylist whom Bangle asked to do something quite radical. The designer told him, " 'Every bone in my body refuses to do this.' He said, 'I can't do this,' and he got sick, literally sick. He came down with a bad flu and he spent three days in his hotel room eating soup — and drawing what I asked him to draw. And when he came out, he had created something no one had ever seen, and he said to me, 'I am liberated.' "
Bangle's press material suggests the vehicle has a future: "It is not a concept car, a research program or a design exercise for an indefinite future. Instead it is the first phase of a program with the aim to start manufacturing in the near term."