Former BMW Group design honcho Chris Bangle has been tagged by a Chinese firm to design an electric car for its Redspace Project, a venture bent on creating an EV for urban environments.
The result is, um, unique. Although it is, to this author’s jaundiced eye, no worse than a BMW 7 Series from the 2002 model year, a car which was apocalyptically ugly even when compared to a large goiter and an offense to any human blessed with the gift of sight.
No car designer in recent history comes close to touching former BMW Group design chief Chris Bangle for controversy. For decades to come, auto scribes will pen articles looking back on his influence on BMW’s lineup, most of which will mention the “Bangle Butt” within the first 100 words.
Bangle’s 17-year tenure at the German automaker ended in 2009, after which he vacated the auto industry, started up a design firm bearing his name, and left his past products for the punditry to debate for all time. Well, Bangle is back, in a manner of speaking, and he’s working on a vehicle from an unlikely source.
He also spilled his guts at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The man known for avant-garde flourishes and risky design adventures claims “hyper-conservative, hyper-terrified” automakers are just re-toasting the same slice of bread.
Everybody loves YouTube personality, gentleman racer, and autojourno-of-the-moment Chris Harris, and I mean everyone. I can still vividly recall a party I attended in New York earlier this year where a lady friend of mine saw Chris and exclaimed in a kind of hysteria that was no doubt aided by the Hendrix-esque combination of painkillers and alcohol she’d managed to swallow, “He’s just adorable!” She then proceeded to totter in his general direction. Since she was (is) six feet tall in her heels and Mr. Harris is about five foot five, this was quite terrifying to Mr. Harris and he promptly hid behind Matt Farah, which is always a solid place to hide.
Luckily for Chris, Travis Okulski happened to wander in at about that time and divert my companion’s high-volume attention. “IT’S TRAVIS! THE GUY WHO CRIED DURING THE PEPSI COMMMERCIAL!” What a night that was, dear readers. Did you know that the last time I started dating someone under five foot nine or so, the Deepwater Horizon was still functioning properly? We’re talking about an entire volleyball team’s worth of tall girls here. Anyway, back to Mr. Harris. He’s written something rather interesting on Jalopnik today, and I’m only feeling slightly smug about it.
Designer Chris Bangle, who was strongly identified with BMW’s brand image and some controversial styling decisions before leaving the company four years ago to open up an independent design studio, says that today’s car designers are doing the same things over and over again, something he calls “mannerism”. In and interview with Automotive News Europe, Bangle said, “There is a real need for a change and that’s just not happening.”
Designers talk about innovation, but don’t really innovate, Bangle opined. “Even concept cars today simply anticipate the next production model coming down the line. Is this innovation? No. And at the end of the day this is what’s preventing car design from moving into a new era.”
When the “F01” 7-Series arrived in 2008 followed by the “F10” 5-Series in 2009, I saw the writing on the wall; BMW is the new Mercedes. My theory was “proved” after a week with the 2011 335is and 2012 X5M. BMW fans decried my prophesy as blasphemy. I repeated my statement with the 2012 328i and caught the eye of egmCarTech. A Mercedes fan tried to run me over in a parking lot. My colleagues in the press thought I lost my mind. BMW’s media watchers were eerily silent. A month later I was told that BMW would allow me a week in the all-new 2012 M6 Convertible. Would the most expensive M car change my mind or prove the point once and for all?
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