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Automaker Floats Minimalist Convertible Concept

It doesn't have a roof or a windshield.

A major Chinese automaker marked the opening of its first design studio in Europe with a striking concept vehicle.

But although the sports car is unique, you’d need eye protection to take it on the road.

GAC Group, the fifth-largest automaker in China, surprised attendees at a ceremony to launch its Milan advanced design center with the GAC Barchetta, a maroon electric roadster that the company said combined elements of an earlier GAC concept sedan with an homage to Italian sports cars from the 1970s.

To others, however, it might look more like a large warehouse robot.

The Barchetta’s ultra-minimalist design features a flattened chassis and compact batteries, a sleek exterior made entirely of aluminum, and a simplified interior — with just a steering wheel and a few other components.

The vehicle’s two seats, made from recycled materials, are suspended from a lightweight shell, and Auto Evolution also noted that the car features wheels with a hollow interior and anchored by triangular steel bars.

The concept car is likely most noteworthy, however, for what’s not there: the Barchetta doesn’t have a roof or a windshield. Its interior is instead protected by a panel hidden in the dashboard that slides over the seats while the car isn’t in use.

Because it's just a concept, the automaker didn’t disclose any details on performance or battery range. The company instead said it hopes the project reflects its vision for a greener future that mixes new concepts with conventional car culture.

It also highlights GAC’s ambitions for its Milan design hub: the company wants to foster new engineering talent and ideas while bridging the best ideas from both Europe and China.

No word on whether the more practical ideas to come from the facility will require driving goggles.

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