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Design Remains More Art than Digital Science

Designers search for the balance between passion and hard data.

by on May.08, 2014

GM Designer Tom Peters with the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette. He led the exterior design team.

While sophisticated technology has become an essential tool in the modern automotive styling studio, it still requires a human touch to bring designs to life.

“The artistic aspect is critical to car design,” stressed Tom Peters, the lead designers at General Motors for performance cars, during a discussion on car design at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association. “It’s through the human touch the passion is instilled in cars,” added Peters.  “Our products are very tactile, you have to engage the senses.”

Designed for You!

Though infotainment systems and fuel economy have becoming increasingly critical, competitive elements in today’s auto market, design remains one of the most important factors for shoppers choosing a new vehicle, studies reveal. In fact, there are many who contend that this is a new “Golden Age” for stylists as even brands like Toyota and Hyundai that traditionally settled for “plain vanilla” styling push for more passion in their products.


First Look: Mazda Minagi

The “soul of motion” rolls into Geneva.

by on Mar.02, 2011

Mazda will put its new Kodo design language into production when a version of the new Minagi reaches market next year.

Mazda is a manufacturer that has often gone its very own way, from its early rotary engines to the distinctive design of the new Mazda5.

That newly updated microvan brings to the street what the maker dubbed its Nagare design language.  Yet even as those flowing forms migrate to the manufacturing process, Mazda has already moved on – as it demonstrates at the Geneva Motor Show, with the unveiling of its new Minagi concept crossover vehicle.

The Mazda Minagi goes a step beyond the Shinari show car unveiled late last year, in the process introducing an all-new design language the Japanese maker dubbed Kodo, or “the soul of motion.”

The Minagi, suggested Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi, “captures the energy of the moment.”

With its cabin notably pressed rearward, there’s a muscular, cat-like quality to the Minagi, which Mazda appropriately compares to a cheetah.”


Styling Sells – Battery Cars – More Than Mileage

Alt-fuel vehicle sales rising, but exterior design may be more important than fuel economy.

by on Jun.18, 2010

Styling sells, even when it comes to high-mileage "green" machines.

How much of a market is there for battery cars and other “green” powertrain technologies? 

The answer seems to depend on who you ask and what your basic assumptions about fuel prices are, though there’s little doubt demand for alternative fuel vehicles is growing steadily.  But concerns about such issues as rising fuel costs and global warming may not be the biggest motivators, suggests at least one new report.  Styling may be equally important.

The current year will be a milestone in the green movement, what with two significant launches scheduled for later this year: the 2011 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and the pure battery-electric Nissan Leaf.  Makers around the world are ramping up production of more conventional green powertrain vehicles, as well, Hyundai, for one, readying its first hybrid-electric vehicle for the U.S. market.

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While Volt and Leaf will come too late to make any real impact on the market, a new study by J.D. Power and Associates predicts that global sales of alternative-fuel vehicles will surge a significant 28% this year, “outpacing the 8% growth we expect in light vehicle sales.”