rely on a product- hungry home market and a captive export market. Following the end of World War II, the British public saw no private car production for six years. Steel was in very short supply and the country was close to financial disaster. The only tooling available was for pre-war vehicles and the government would only release raw materials to companies who could meet very high export quotas. In this unhealthy climate, British car companies, forced to export, relied almost totally on countries from the old British Empire for customers. Out- of- date British cars were at first bought by customers who had limited access to newer models, but quite soon these pre-war cars lost popularity. The only cars that continued to find customers were British sports cars from MG, Triumph and Austin Healey. But the comparatively limited market for such specialist models did not make a good business basis for survival. This reliance on outdated models, or limited production specialist vehicles signalled the beginning of the decline of the British automotive industry. When one looks at the recent history of two of the world's largest vehicle producing countries, Japan and South Korea, it can be seen that Japan took almost 40 years to become a producer of high quality cars. By international perception, Korea, after 25 years in the auto business, has not quite reached the same level as Japan, although in the last five years it has made great progress. I do not believe that China needs or wants to wait that long to develop experience. The Chinese automotive industry is in an enviable position whereby it can bypass Western established car cultures and market norms. China can make a technological leap right now. There is an opportunity to carefully consider both public and private transportation needs and to develop models that will satisfy those requirements, both for the home market and for newly developing overseas markets. A bright future I believe the Chinese industry will need to produce competitive vehicles for export, but it has to be very realistic about its chosen market sectors. Simple, inexpensive, but practical, safe and desirable products for newly developing markets will be a much more attractive sales " I do not believe China wants to wait as long as Japan and Korea have to develop experience"
proposition than luxury cars. It is therefore essential that China creates its own design and engineering colleges where students are encouraged to develop not just style but an understanding of Chinese cultural strengths. Students will need to explore original Chinese design qualities and learn how to apply those qualities to 21st century products. These future Chinese auto industry designers will have to develop a clear understanding of product definition, benchmarking and most importantly how design must be a fundamental part of the quality process. Similarly, young engineers will have to examine and understand current automotive technologies, but they will, like the designers, have to question established methods and look for new solutions from within Chinese traditions and knowledge. A recent lecture tour that The British Council organised gave me the chance to see whether this is a possibility. Two of the colleges I lectured at were in Beijing and Shanghai - Tsinghua University Art School and Tong Ji University, respectively. The students were just like students everywhere; charming, curious, stylish, confident, optimistic and sometimes late! The most commonly asked questions were related to what the students called ' Rip- off design'; they wanted to know what they should do when their bosses told them to copy a Western product currently in production. They were also desperate to know how they could find a unique ' Chinese style' to apply to their design work. I suggested this is happening because the rate of expansion of the Chinese motor industry is ahead of that of design and engineering training, so the hungry production lines need instant feeding and this is most easily achieved by copying current models. It is now up to the graduating students to demonstrate they are at