After being teased last week, the Chevrolet FNR-X Concept crossover made its debut yesterday at the Shanghai auto show.

The new shape, which sports a plug-in hybrid powertrain, is intended to showcase the design talents of Chevy's Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center in Shanghai

It's the second concept to be named FNR—for "Find New Roads," Chevrolet's global tagline—but the first as a globally popular crossover utility vehicle: the FNR unveiled two years ago at the same show was a sports car.

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The Pan Asia design and engineering center is run by a joint venture between General Motors and Chinese automaker SAIC Motor that produces multiple vehicles and brands, many unique to the China market.

The design brief for what became the FNR-X was to create a vehicle that combined performance with utility, hence the SUV-like body style and the plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The concept demonstrates a "powerful, attractive design language" using what Chevy calls "clear, masculine lines."

Chevrolet FNR-X concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show

Chevrolet FNR-X concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show

Chevrolet says the FNR-X can switch between V (Versatility) and S (Sport) modes. In V mode, the suspension rises to offer additional ground clearance.

Like any concept vehicle, it features a self-driving system, which in Versatility mode can be used to handle off-road terrain. Chevy says the system will select the best route based on its predictions for complex road conditions.

Sport mode, on the other hand, lowers the car, firms up the suspension, and adjusts the body's front and rear spoilers and side skirts to reduce aerodynamic drag. Even the blades on the alloy wheels can adjust to assist smooth airflow.

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Doors are remotely controlled, with the rear pair hinged at the back to make entry and exit easier.

The steering wheel and dashboard of the FNR-X are intended to convey a sporty feel, although interacting with many of the car's functions is largely done by voice.

The SUV's seats can be easily repositioned or removed to maximize cargo capacity.

Chevrolet FNR-X concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show

Chevrolet FNR-X concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show

There's virtually no detail on the FNR-X's plug-in hybrid powertrain contained in the press materials, indicating that it may be more of a design study than a thinly disguised future production car.

That description may also apply to the Buick Velite concept, a design study for a five-door hatchback that was shown last fall at the Guangzhou auto show.

At this week's Shanghai show, the production Buick Velite 5 appeared. It's a rebadged current-generation Chevrolet Volt, intended to take advantage of the prestige of the Buick brand in China, which buys five times as many Buicks as are sold in the U.S.

CHECK OUT: Chevy Volt to become Buick Velite in China, concept car hints at new style

With CAFE standards rising through at least 2021 in the U.S. and far more stringent limits on carbon emissions in China and the EU, it's likely that more plug-in hybrid vehicles will adopt the increasingly popular crossover utility body style.

Next year the U.S. is likely to see strong competition among hybrid versions of popular compact crossovers, including the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4.

Thus far the new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox compact crossover appears to be relying on a new 1.6-liter diesel engine for its highest fuel-economy version.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

The question thus becomes when—or whether—Chevrolet will launch a plug-in hybrid crossover.

Sadly, we conclude that the Chevrolet FNR-X Concept in Shanghai doesn't offer any more insight into the answer to that question.

For all the latest green concept cars and production vehicles shown this week, visit our Shanghai auto show news page.


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