The oddest-looking, and most bizarrely named cars at the Detroit show this week are three tiny, toy-like concepts, the handiwork of Chinese auto designer Li Guangming.

But while we're unlikely to be driving around in a Tang Hua Book of Songs, Piece of Cloud or a Detroit Fish, there are several points to the exercise, Li believes.

He wants to create a unique Chinese design language - and these rounded little cars are a starting point.

"There will be no Chinese national cars of significance if the Chinese spirit is absent from their design," he said.

Li's dream is to create an iconic car for China that would be comparable to the Ford Model T in early 20th century America, or the VW Beetle in post-war Germany. He's clearly a fan of the Beetle, and believes a "rounded, friendly" look is indicative of Chinese culture. While his concepts take this to extremes, you can see his point.

Furthermore, the three concepts - and others produced by Li's Beijing-based consultancy - are all electric cars. He believes it is vital that China explores alternative energy sources.

"If China and India burned [petrol] at the same rate as the US, they would consume four times the fuel reserves of the entire planet. The future must point to the EV field - that's one of the reasons why I'm exhibiting here at Detroit," he said.

The Detroit Fish -so named because it is amphibious, and has been specially designed for the show - has a 3.5kW electric motor and lithium ion battery pack, giving a range of 150km (about 90 miles) and a top speed of 45kmh (about 25mph).

Li believes these small cars can have uses in "tourist spots, large communities, university campuses and small towns".