The future of car design

Phil Curry | 28 Apr 2020

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Phil Curry

Editor Daily Brief

Phil Curry, Autovista24 Editor, is a seasoned automotive journalist, always keen to seek out and explain the latest industry developments

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28 April 2020

Although both Auto Mobility LIVE (AML) and the TCO Awards have been cancelled for this year, Autovista Group and the events’ speakers and judges remain committed to bringing you informative and relevant insights. AML speaker Franck Louis-Victor, who is new media and innovation services director at Renault, discusses the future of car design, and how to create brands that live up to their iconic predecessors.

Technology has always been the driving force behind evolution in car design. Used effectively, it has the potential to be a game-changer. However, used unquestioningly, there is the danger that cars of the future will be stripped of their personality and consumers will lose the personal connection they have always had with their car.

Over recent decades, cars have undergone a series of incremental evolutions. Each new version is bigger, heavier, taller, more sophisticated, more comfortable and more environmentally friendly. Modern cars have become safer, efficient and reliable as manufacturers take advantage of continuous technological improvements, and they have fewer elements in common with their predecessors as a result.

Rare emotion

However, making better vehicles using the same name as an iconic original model does not guarantee the car keeps its soul – that unique recipe that made the original a success. The emotion that surrounds a product is rarely just a question of technology. It results from a perfect combination of a relevant value proposition, meeting a precise societal need and a brand associated with strong values.

Ongoing developments within the industry, such as electrification, connected technologies, shared mobility and autonomy are also impacting car design. Battery-electric vehicles, for example, represent a major step towards dramatically reducing pollution. These cars are attractive enough to compete with traditional combustion engines; they offer the right level of comfort and autonomy.  Yet, all these incentives are doing is artificially sustaining the market, while CO2 regulations are forcing carmakers to shape their product ranges around zero-emission offerings to avoid heavy taxes.

Unique recipe

The pace of automotive research and development has probably never been more intense, and yet to realise the combined potential of the technologies available, OEMs need to rely on their suppliers to provide top-notch solutions and components, cautions Louis- Victor. Still, the job of design, upstream specification and integration rests firmly with manufacturers. They need to combine the ingredients to deliver their unique recipe to the market.

How will the current coronavirus pandemic affect design? Big crises have the virtue of bringing us back to basics, sweeping away the superfluous, unnecessary things, reducing the choices that we have to make and bringing what is most important to the fore. This may lead carmakers to focus on areas away from technology to win customers, bringing design back to the front of their thoughts.

You can read or download the full thought-leadership insight by Renault’s Franck Louis-Victor here. In it, he explores the different technologies on offer to carmakers today, and how coronavirus will impact decisions on car design and development.

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