SHANGHAI -- If the design of Nissan's newest car for China looks in-your-face, over-the-top and brash with no apologies, well, so is the latest consumer trend it aims to tap.
Daqi (DAH'-chee), the Chinese term encompassing a desire for status, pomp and harmony, is so yesterday. In today's China, consumer taste is all about baqi (BAH'-chee), a flamboyant individuality that stands out from the crowd. That is the zeitgeist of China's coveted up-and-coming younger generation.
Nissan thinks its designed-for-China Lannia sedan mirrors that mood perfectly with a head-turning design even the chief engineer acknowledges probably wouldn't fly in other markets.
The Lannia goes on sale in China -- and only China -- this autumn. The car debuted at this year's Shanghai auto show, and won the show's Best New Model to Come award.
Global automakers are struggling to adjust and adapt to China's rapidly changing auto landscape. Nissan's move is part of a recalibration by many brands trying to capture a key emerging customer group in the world's largest market.
The prize: Chinese buyers in their 20s who dare to be different. They number some 240 million people, according to IHS Automotive, and their product choices will play a big role in deciding which brands will be tomorrow's winners in China.
Nissan says the demographic will represent more than half the market by year end.
"They grew up in a period in which China experienced tremendous growth in its economy and in its influence in the world. They grew up with a very different mentality, that they don't need to follow more developed countries like Europe, the U.S. or Japan," says John Zheng, 38, the Lannia's chief engineer. "We set our own trends. We're the new China. We're strong. We want to express ourselves. They want to stand out. Everything is me-centric. It's about me."
The Lannia, which means blue bird in Chinese, gets some of the latest design cues that appear in global Nissan nameplates, such as the V-shaped grille and floating roof seen in the latest redesigns of the Murano cross-over and Maxima sedan. But it takes the styling a step further.