One thing I heard over and over in the Transportation Design biz is how the real world of car design is nothing like what you learn in school. It’s probably the same for any Industrial Designer or anyone in the creative arts, but to a lesser extent. We are passionate about cars. To wit: my former CCS classmate Mike Chan is taking his education and automotive (okay, motorcycle) design experience to launch his own design: the Chrono Case. Do me a solid and check out the man’s hard work, and maybe consider participating in the Indiegogo funding thing. Why?
Because we all need to save designers from creating design nightmares such as the VW Routan. The weatherstripping is reason enough to become a design entrepreneur à la Mike Chan. From one CCS person to another, best of luck to you, Mike. (Read More…)
History repeats itself. I repeat, History repeats…well, you see my point. Which was probably one of the reasons why my creations in Car Design College were universally panned as being “too retro”, among other things. It was a similar fate given to Lenny Kravitz, except he was very talented in his form of artistic expression. And while you can’t “sell” most design studios on the power of history, I present to you the latest Nash/AMC Rambler.
I mean Nissan Leaf. You’ll have to forgive me for seeing the similarity between the two, in spirit, historical context and on the Vellum. (Read More…)
I can’t believe every automaker and their dog needs an entry-level luxury car, but some folks pull it off better than others. Case in point, this VW CC versus a Hyundai Azera or the (current) Lincoln MKZ. Which makes me wonder what designers say in the studio when trying to make such an upscale motor from a rather dowdy platform mate in the corporate stable.
I suspect a fair bit of cursing, especially for the poor souls tasked with the aforementioned Lincoln. And while badge engineering is a vital (yet terrifying) part of the game, me thinks the designers at VW had more leverage, more money and way more fun making this ride. Because the roof proves it. (Read More…)
Please believe: car design school is a frickin’ bizarre place. The phrase “I’m surprised you are here and not in medical school” was thrown in my face several times at CCS. And this verbal diarrhea came from people who take your tuition and are supposed to help you become a designer! But can’t I, a fairly smart South Asian dude, be more than what you assume?
Or do stereotypes exist for a reason? Like the beliefs held about the vehicle in question?
The newest VW Beetle reminds me of that old “Design School Sajeev.” (Read More…)
I’m shocked and honored by the warm reception the Vellum Venom series has earned from TTAC’s B&B. Your comments are read, digested and will influence the series, but some comments move quicker than others. To wit: Josh Howard’s photochop of my Chevy Cruze image.
“You were so right about the smoothing out of the Cruze front end and getting rid of the small fake DLO plastic piece in front. This car looks WAYYYY different and more Toyota-like with some of the changes you suggested. – JH”
Now imagine Josh’s changes with a bow tie in the center and we are done. This “Vellum Venom Cruze” looks Acura-like, a bit more BMW E36-like and much like any other classically proportioned sports sedan from the modern era. But wait, we aren’t done re-designing this little hit from the big General. Hit the jump for another rendering of Epic Win. (Read More…)
Here’s the thing about design school, and designers in general: you are taught to fully express your creativity…which sounds like a great idea in theory. In reality, there’s very little “reality” in the situation. This is a creative art for profit, by a multinational, publicly traded corporation. Design school students frequently have to un-learn their training if they want to make the nut.
When my freshman year Transportation Design class at CCS was tasked for a third world mode for transport, the teacher chose one country in particular: India. Luckily, since I’ve regularly visited that nation and know a tad bit more about it than most car designers…well, I thought I’d nail this one. Because who in India (circa 1998, and still to this day) can afford a car? Rich people, not the masses with no hope of education and/or career advancement…they stick with their feet or perhaps a motorcycle. Sad, but true. (Read More…)
After reading yesterday’s post about the future Euro-Trash Mustang, the sad reality is that most of us are incorrectly reading between the lines. Fortunately for me, I have a soapbox, slathered in venom: assuming Ford killed the Panthers, the Ranger, the Mercury brand and castrated Lincoln for a good reason, the Mustang shall remain rear-wheel drive with the requisite proportions. It won’t be a Probe, as the public/UAW outcry (with the ensuing hate mail to Ford execs) and the stunning (straight line) performance of the 1987 Ford Mustang 5.0 put those worries to bed. Even the Bruce Jenner Mustang wasn’t a big deal, so let’s all be cool.
Back to the Venom on the Vellum. As to the Mustang-Aston Martin connection, don’t sweat it: the original Pony car ripped off other designs for its unique take on Americana. So I welcome the future AMM, or Aston Martin Mustang! (Read More…)
I always wondered what it takes to make the top drawer trim level of a car…any car. From what I saw from my friend Jeff Sanders’ sketchbook for the (yet-to-be created) Ford F150 Harley Davidson, very little of what a designer actually “designs” makes it into production. A flare side bed with leather bags like a real Harley? Not a chance in hell, Mr. Sanders. Enter the lipstick on a P…Pony: the outgoing Shelby GT500 for 2012. (Read More…)
2011 was a fascinating year to follow auto sales. With the overall market up over 10%, and hot new products hitting showrooms, there was definitely room to grow… and yet everyone seems to have an excuse for why growth wasn’t stronger. Japanese automakers, the biggest losers of 2011, had a strong of natural disasters to blame the bad year on. Detroit showed strong volume gains in terms of percentage growth, and earned respect in growing segments where they were previously weak, but couldn’t match the expectations of its perennially over-optimistic boosters. The Korean manufacturers showed strong market share growth but lack of capacity prevented them from bounding into the top tier of the US sales game. In fact, only the European luxury manufacturers could point to 2011′s sales performance with unalloyed satisfaction, as they grew some 29.5% as a group, from an already-strong volume position. So, given these mixed results, what was the lesson of 2011?
With full sales numbers reported for July, TTAC is proud to announce its first-ever auto analyst grades [analyst estimates via Bloomberg]. For now we’re simply grading SAAR projections, but we’ve included OEM projections where applicable, for your own comparison. For July, the top-rated analyst was Edmunds.com’s Jessica Caldwell, whose SAAR prediction was an uncanny .5% off the actual number. Congratulations to Jessica and the Edmunds team, as well as our other A-rated analysts, Rod Lache of Deutsche Bank and Peter Nesvold of Jefferies (who squeaked in with an A-). Hit the jump to see how we calculated our grades.
[UPDATE: GM responds to this piece here]
With environmentalist groups on the warpath over forthcoming 2017-2025 CAFE standards, trucks sitting on lots, and the Flint HD Pickup plant idled for much of the month, this is probably not exactly the moment GM might have chosen to put $328m into tooling for new full-sized pickups to be built at Flint. But time and the market wait for no company, and because the Silverado is GM’s single best-selling product, the investment isn’t tough to justify:
“Truck sales play an important role in the success of General Motors,” said Joe Ashton, UAW-GM Vice President. “We are confident that the next-generation of trucks will continue to be an important source of revenue for the company and jobs for our members
In case there’s any confusion though, GM is making perfectly sure nobody thinks they’re making any product choices because of union demands. At the investment announcement ceremony at Flint, Cathy Clegg, GM vice president of labor relations told Reuters [via Automotive News [sub]]
We certainly aren’t going to make a decision and make a commitment solely as a way of getting an agreement. If the market doesn’t drive it, we can’t do that
So, how is that truck market?
One of the toughest challenges facing industry analysts right now involves determining what the market for electric vehicles actually looks like, what kind of volumes it will support and for how long. It’s a problem that I’ve hashed over at length with an old college buddy who now works at a cleantech investment firm, and let me be the first to say that it’s not an easy problem to pick apart. The number of unknown quantities and moving parts explains why opinions among money managers can vary so wildly even about relatively marginal firms like Tesla.
Luckily, Thilo Koslowski of Gartner Research [and celebrated coiner of the term "the trough of disappointment"] has dedicated himself more thoroughly to the problem, and has some startling findings to report. For example, despite the relentless pro-EV hype present in all levels of the media, Koslowski’s research shows that more consumers are actually considering buying a natural gas-powered vehicle. Looks like Edmunds’ Jeremy Anwyl was on to something when he called for an end to EV tax credits in favor of greater support for natural gas cars.
About a half-hour after TTAC’s 15 Years of Compact Car Sales graph went up today, the normally enthusiast-oriented car blog Jalopnik gave the internet its own take on compact-car segment analysis with a post titled The Ford Fiesta Will Dominate The Small Car Segment. Some might question how this is supposed to jive with Jalopnik’s alleged commitment to “awesomeness,” but our concerns are far more prosaic. Examples: the absence of the Fiesta’s actual competitors like the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris, and the absence of interior volume comparisons which would expose this “comparison” for the fraud it is. And that’s just for starters…
[Editor's note: TTAC prides itself on covering the most compelling stories in the automotive world, connecting the biggest trends, and exploring the most momentous decisions. We endlessly pore over the ceaseless stream of automotive news and data, and bring the most significant and momentous stories to these pages for your enlightenment and debate. But sometimes we just plain need a break from all the seriousness. Luckily, former TTACer Justin Berkowitz has the perfect palate-cleanser after a long week of news and analysis. His site, Metacars.com, publishes some of the best auto humor on the web, and we've asked him to compile a weekly digest of the funniest car news that never happened over the previous seven days. Unlike AutoWeek, the MetaCars Week In Review will actually be published every week, and unlike Jalopnik it will actually be funny. We hope you enjoy it.]