"Get On It!"

Autoline on Design

by motorfoot 6/9/2008 2:28:00 PM
Autoline Detroit has been running a series themed "Autoline in LA", with a focus on design.

This week the show featured an interview with four of the top automotive designers located on the west coast.

From the Autoline Detroit website:

"Joining John McElroy on this week’s deep dive into the world of automotive design are four of the top automotive artists located on the west coast. Kevin Hunter is the President of Toyota’s Calty Design Research Center located in Newport Beach. Dave Marek is the Chief Designer at Honda’s Advanced Design Studio in Pasadena. Franz von Holzhausen is the Director of Design for Mazda’s North American Operations and Joel Piaskowski is the Chief Designer at the Hyundai Kia Design and Technical Center both located not too far from each other in Irvine. Together all four will talk in-depth about style, trends, SoCal and how their studios plan and predict for the future."

Interested? Well you are in luck. You can watch this show and past shows on the Autoline Detroit website. You can also watch the "Extra" segment which is the rest of the interview that didn't air on the TV broadcast.

We are living in "interesting times" regarding the auto industry, and as performance car enthusiasts, we are especially affected.

So, what did I get out of it?

Dave Marek, the Chief Designer at Honda’s Advanced Design Studio, mentioned that a fragmentation is occurring among consumers and that we won't give up our performance desires. Unfortunately, that intriguing thought died right there as they switched gears to another topic. Was he implying that performance and efficiency are conflicting requirements, resulting in two separate vehicles? Or was he implying that those two consumer desires can be achieved in a single vehicle design? Now that's a discussion I would love to hear these designers elaborate on!  Unfortunately it was not a live call-in show dangit!

Kevin Hunter, the President of Toyota’s Calty Design Research Center, was the least animated of the bunch. Which made sense when he said  the whole point of a vehicle is to get from point A to point B. Hmmm, spoken like a...Toyota engineer! How's that for inspiring passion?

And there was the "wretched American excess" comment by Franz (and your point is?)...but I'll let you discover that for yourself!

Dig the Vid at Autoline Detroit Website


The Open Platform Car - Part 2 (a vision realized?)

The Open Platform Car - Part 1


News | Design

Four dollars a gallon - youre pissing me off

by motorfoot 5/27/2008 1:33:00 PM

Geez, $4.00 plus a gallon for gas today! Uncle! I'm ready for a hybrid. And I don't have an addiction to oil, ok? I hate that phrase.

I didnt flinch at $3.00 a gallon, but $4.00? Hmmm. Now you're pissing me off.

I think of my vehicle as more than basic transportation. I like vehicles that evoke emotion, so call me a cave man. Yes, it's our common curse (why didn't I get the stamp collecting gene?)

But alas, nothing in the fuel effecient realm built today really moves me (so to speak).

Except...Toyota. Yes, Toyota.

They are on the right track, at least for me.

I am referring to the Toyota ABAT concept.

It doesn't look like a little 'happy car'.

It has cool styling, it has truck looks, and it is fuel effecient.

If this thing was on the lot today and it got 40 MPG I'd buy it.

I wish Ford or Chevy would enter this area asap.

Come on, throw a Volt truck out there!

Are you crying uncle yet? Are you considering trading a perfectly good auto for a more fuel effecient auto?

The Open Platform Car - Part 2

by motorfoot 5/23/2008 12:11:00 AM

Ford recently sponsored a design contest to reinvent the iconic Model T. But what is really needed is to reinvent the auto company.

In my first article titled "The Open Platform Car", I talked about my vision for a new car company.

The main points were:

1. Open up the design of the car. Only a select few designers ever get to see their designs get to production. How sad for them, and for us.

2. Style changes at a different rate than engineering. Therefore the rate of change in engineering should be decoupled from the rate of change in design.

3. Customers want more choices in visual design. Why have one version of the Camaro for six years?

Enter the unexpected... Local Motors.

I was quite surprised when I stumbled upon Local Motors while reading a car design blog. The vision of Local Motors is very similar to what I see in the future. The Local Motors Mission statement is:

"Lead the next generation of automotive manufacturing, design, and technology in order to revolutionize the industry with game-changing efficient vehicles and an unprecedented standard of customer service."

Whether this company is successful or not, it proves that change is here. The auto companies are too big to handle this kind of change because it is a completely different business model. I will definitely be following this company.

>> Detroit Free Press - Reinventing the Model T
>> - Local Motors Website

  Also on MOTORFOOT:

>> The Open Platform Car - Part 1


The Open Platform Car

by motorfoot 4/18/2008 1:05:00 AM

What if designers could come up with several styling versions of a car, and sell them all?

What if you could drop your two year old car off at the dealership styling center and have it "re-bodied" with a new design?

What if an auto company designed a platform car with fixed three dimensional body attachment points that were guaranteed not to change for ten years? The engineering underneath could change, but the fixed coordinates could not be altered.

With this fixed three dimensional contract, the aftermarket could invest in designing compelling niche body styles. The money they invest would pay off because the product would be valid for a long period. This would open up the visual aspect of auto style to match the pace of demand and give us more choices.

On a smaller level, Harley-Davidson has been doing this for decades, and because of this, has a huge after market for bolt on products because their basic platform design changes very slowly. Do auto companies see this?

There's room for a new auto company. An auto company that will free us from the tyranny of time to market. An auto company that embraces choice and style and engineers its platform to enable this aspect of car culture.

What do you think? 



>> The Open Platform Car - Part 2


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