Given that the SheLL concept car comes from from Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., based in one of the world's most booming cities, the overarching idea behind the vehicle -- that the SheLL exists in a tightly packed urban environment 20 years in the future where space is at a premium -- fits right in. Everything else about the concept -- not so much.
People spend a lot of time in their cars, and despite their long history, our automobiles do pretty much one thing: take you from point A to point B. The SheLL concept, on the other hand, aims to bring your outside life inside your transportation solution in a more fundamental way than social media applications, TV and video game consoles ever could. Inspired by folding fans and folding paper lanterns -- which were themselves inspired by a fan-shaped shellfish; hence the concept's name -- the vehicle's spacious interior can be customized from moment to moment, meaning your car can also be your office, or even your gym. The exterior employs elastic membranes that allow it to interact with its environment; in other words, it basically has a self-contained docking station, so you can, say, pop out of your office and into your SheLL -- docked on the side of the building -- to get a quick workout in during lunch.
Unfortunately, details are scarce, as is often the case with breaking news coming from behind the Great Firewall, but at a time when you need do nothing more than outfit a car with a hybrid drivetrain and some gull-wing doors before you call it a "concept," it's refreshing to see a company that actually comes up with new ways of thinking about what a car is -- and what it could be. And given China's growth and almost insatiable desire for vehicles, SAIC -- the third-largest automaker in China -- will likely wield quite a bit more power in the coming years. Here's to hoping it keeps that creative spirit alive.