AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN is the profession involved in the development of
the appearance, and to some extent the ergonomics , of motor vehicles
or more specifically road vehicles.
This most commonly refers to automobiles but also refers to
motorcycles , trucks , buses , coaches , and vans . The functional
design and development of a modern motor vehicle is typically done by
a large team from many different disciplines included within
automotive engineering .
Automotive design in this context is
primarily concerned with developing the visual appearance or
aesthetics of the vehicle, though it is also involved in the creation
of the product concept.
Automotive design is practiced by designers
who usually have an art background and a degree in industrial design
or transportation design.
* 1.1 Exterior design
Color and trim design
* 1.5 Computer-aided styling and Class-A development
* 2 Development process
* 2.1 Styling development cycle
* 2.2 Development team
* 3 Components
* 4 History
* 4.1 U.S.
* 4.2 Europe
* 4.2.2 Great Britain
* 4.2.3 Germany
* 4.2.4 Italy
* 4.2.5 Scandinavia
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Further reading
* 8 External links
A Bertone Birusa concept car on display at an International Car
Show. In the Background are some concept sketches Draft of
OScar design proposal A futuristic original sketch for Ferrari
Modulo 512-S by Paul Martin in 1967. There are already many features
of the final concept, including the reduced height, wheels coved for
low drag and the characteristic entry system.
The task of the design team is usually split into three main aspects:
exterior design, interior design, and color and trim design. Graphic
design is also an aspect of automotive design; this is generally
shared amongst the design team as the lead designer sees fit. Design
focuses not only on the isolated outer shape of automobile parts, but
concentrates on the combination of form and function, starting from
the vehicle package.
The aesthetic value will need to correspond to ergonomic
functionality and utility features as well. In particular, vehicular
electronic components and parts will give more challenges to
automotive designers who are required to update on the latest
information and knowledge associated with emerging vehicular gadgetry,
particularly dashtop mobile devices, like GPS navigation, satellite
radio , HD radio , mobile TV, MP3 players, video playback, and
smartphone interfaces. Though not all the new vehicular gadgets are to
be designated as factory standard items, some of them may be integral
to determining the future course of any specific vehicular models.
The stylist responsible for the design of the exterior of the vehicle
develops the proportions, shape, and surfaces of the vehicle. Exterior
design is first done by a series of digital or manual drawings.
Progressively, drawings that are more detailed are executed and
approved by appropriate layers of management. Clay (industrial
plasticine) and or digital models are developed from, and along with
the drawings. The data from these models are then used to create a
full sized mock-up of the final design (body in white ). With three-
and five-axis CNC milling machines, the clay model is first designed
in a computer program and then "carved" using the machine and large
amounts of clay. Even in times of high-class 3d software and virtual
models on power walls, the clay model is still the most important tool
to evaluate the design of a car and therefore used throughout the
The stylist responsible for the design of the vehicle interior
develops the proportions, shape, placement, and surfaces for the
instrument panel, seats, door trim panels, headliner, pillar trims,
etc. Here the emphasis is on ergonomics and the comfort of the
passengers. The procedure here is the same as with exterior design
(sketch, digital model and clay model).
COLOR AND TRIM DESIGN
The color and trim (or color and materials) designer is responsible
for the research, design, and development of all interior and exterior
colors and materials used on a vehicle. These include paints ,
plastics , fabric designs, leather , grains, carpet , headliner, wood
trim, and so on.
Color , contrast, texture , and pattern must be
carefully combined to give the vehicle a unique interior environment
experience. Designers work closely with the exterior and interior
Designers draw inspiration from other design disciplines such as:
industrial design, fashion , home furnishing, architecture , and
sometimes product design . Specific research is done into global
trends to design for projects two to three model years in the future.
Trend boards are created from this research in order to keep track of
design influences as they relate to the automotive industry. The
designer then uses this information to develop themes and concepts
that are then further refined and tested on the vehicle models.
The design team also develops graphics for items such as: badges,
decals, dials, switches, kick or tread strips, liveries.
COMPUTER-AIDED STYLING AND CLASS-A DEVELOPMENT
The sketches and rendering are transformed into 3D Digital surface
modelling and rendering for real-time evaluation with Math data in
initial stages. During the development process succeeding phases will
require the 3D model fully developed to meet the aesthetic
requirements of a designer and well as all engineering and
manufacturing requirements. The fully developed CAS digital model will
be re-developed for manufacturing meeting the Class-A surface
standards that involves both technical as well as aesthetics. This
data will be further developed by Product
Engineering team. These
modelers usually have a background in
Industrial design or sometimes
tooling engineering in case of some Class-A modelers. Autodesk Alias
and ICEM Surf are the two most widely used software tools for Class-A
Ford Taurus clay model on display in
STYLING DEVELOPMENT CYCLE
Several manufacturers have slightly varied development cycles for
designing an Automobile, but in practice these are the following.
Design and User Research
* Concept Development sketching
* Class A surfaces
* Interior Buck Model
* Vehicle ergonomics
* Class A surfaces
* Colour and Trim
* Vehicle Graphics
The design process occurs concurrently with other product Engineers
who will be engineering the styling data for meeting performance,
manufacturing and safety regulations. From mid-phase, back and forth
interactions between the designers and product engineers culminates
into a finished product be manufacturing ready.
Apart from this the
Engineering team parallelly works in the
following areas. Product
Engineering (Body In White Sheetmetal Design
Plastic engineering), NVH Development team,
Powertrain engineering, Physical Vehicle validation, Tool and Die
development and Manufacturing process design.
The styling team for a specific model consists of a chief designer
and an Exterior as well as interior designer. In some cases all three
roles are done by one designer. Several junior designers are involved
in the development process as well who make specific contributions all
overseen by the chief designer. Apart from this the
Color and trim
designer works closely with other designers. The Clay model team and
Digital model team works closely with the styling team all located
within the studio. Apart from this there would be studio head, studio
managers and prototype engineers who would work across all teams in
the studio. The total team size for developing a full sedan usually
ranges from 25 to 40 members and the development time lasts for more
than 24 months till signed-off for tooling and production. Thereafter
a smaller team would be working until vehicle launch.
Integration of an automobile involves fitting together separate parts
to form a monocoque body or units and mounting these onto a frame, the
An automobile chassis basically comprises the following:
* The body shell, which forms the skeleton of the vehicle.
* The engine, is the power unit of the vehicle; which in the past
has been in large part, the internal combustion engine.
* Transmission system, which aids in transferring the drive from the
engine to the wheels. Its main components are the clutch, gearbox,
final drive, and differential.
* Suspension system, which is used to connect the wheels to the body
or chassis frame.
* Electrical equipment
The chassis is complete in itself as a road vehicle. It can drive and
control itself just as in case of a complete car and therefore, in
many motor works, the chassis is usually tested on the road before the
complete body of the vehicle is attached as the chassis alone can
behave as the propulsion means.
An early example of Sloan's work, 1939 LaSalle An early
example of the
Forward look design, 1956 Plymouth Fury A design
that was imitated by other automakers,
Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
In the United States, automotive design reached a turning point in
the 1920's when the American national automobile market began reaching
saturation. To maintain unit sales,
General Motors head Alfred P.
Sloan Jr. suggested annual model-year design changes to convince car
owners that they needed to buy a new replacement each year, an idea
borrowed from the bicycle industry (though Sloan usually gets the
credit, or blame). Critics called his strategy planned obsolescence .
Sloan preferred the term "dynamic obsolescence". This strategy had
far-reaching effects on the auto business, the field of product
design, and eventually the American economy.
The smaller automakers could not maintain the pace and expense of
Henry Ford did not like the model-year change
because he clung to an engineer's notions of simplicity, economics of
scale, and design integrity. GM surpassed Ford's sales in 1931, and
became the dominant company in the industry thereafter. The frequent
design changes also made it necessary to use a body-on-frame rather
than the lighter but less adaptable monocoque design used by most
Some U.S. designers include
Gordon Buehrig , who was responsible for
the Auburn 851, as well as the Cord 810 and 812 (hence also the
Hupmobile Skylark and the Graham Hollywood).
In the 1930s,
Chrysler 's innovations with aerodynamics helped launch
Chrysler Airflow in 1934, which was revolutionary and radical
compared to the contemporary vehicles. However, inadequate consumer
acceptance of the advanced appearance of the cars forced a re-design
of succeeding models of the Airflow. This marketing experience made
the entire industry take note of the high risks involved in
incorporating major design advancements into their production cars.
A major influence on American auto styling and marketing was Harley
Earl , who brought the tailfin and other aeronautical design
references to auto design starting with the rear fenders of the 1948
Cadillac. Another notable designer was
Chrysler group's designer
Virgil Exner , who developed the
Forward look design in the mid-1950s.
Exner is also credited with using wind tunnel testing to justify
incorporating tailfins, thus moving the company away from boxy-looking
cars into more aerodynamic and futuristic designs.
Raymond Loewy was
responsible for a number of
Studebaker vehicles, including the
Starlight (including the bullet-nose).
Starting in the 1960s,
Richard A. Teague
Richard A. Teague , who spent most of his
American Motors Corporation (AMC), originated the concept
of using interchangeable body panels so as to create a wide array of
different vehicles using the same stampings, starting with the AMC
Cavalier . Teague was responsible for unique automotive designs such
as the two-seat
AMC AMX muscle car, the subcompact Gremlin , the Pacer
, and Matador coupe , as well as the original and market
segment-creating, Jeep Cherokee (introduced in 1983, and built to 2001
in the U.S. and through 2005 in China).
Additionally during the 1960s,
Ford 's first generation
and Thunderbird marked another era leading into new market segments
Detroit . The
Ford Mustang achieved record sales in its first
year of production and established the pony car segment.
Personal injury litigation has had an effect on the design and
appearance of the car in the 20th century.
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An early radical French Voisin C26
World War I
World War I , most of the automakers were concerned with
mechanical reliability rather than its external appearance. Later,
luxury and aesthetics became a demand and also an effective marketing
tool. Designs from each nation with its own strong cultural identity,
reflected in their exterior and interior designs.
World War II
World War II slowed
the progress, but after the early-1950s, Italian designers set the
trend and remained the driving force until the early part of the
France notable designs came from
Avions Voisin . Of
the mass selling cars
Citroën , launched their vehicles with
innovative designs and engineering and mostly aided by the styling of
Flaminio Bertoni as evident from
Citroën DS . After World War II,
with the disappearance of the coach building industry, French
automakers (except Citroën) followed British and other popular trends
until they gained financial stability. During the 1980s, manufactures
Renault cultivated their own strong design identities with
Patrick Le Quement .
Peugeot , which was dependent on
Pininfarina since early post-war period, later established its own
brand identity from the 1980s onwards. Its other company, Citroën,
still retains its distinctive French innovations for its designs.
Ford Sierra with "jelly-mould" or "aero look" (low CD)
styling was advanced for its time
Great Britain was Europe's leading manufacturer of automobiles until
the late-1960s. During that era there were more British-based
automakers than in the rest of Europe combined. The British automobile
industry catered to all segments ranging from compact, budget, sports,
utility, and luxury-type cars.
Car design in Britain was markedly
different from other European designs largely because British
designers were not influenced by other European art or design
movements, as well as the British clay modelers used a different sweep
British cars until
World War II
World War II were sold in most of the British
colonies . Innovations in vehicle packaging and chassis engineering
combined with global familiarity with British designs meant vehicles
were acceptable to public tastes at that time. British skilled
resources like panel beaters, die machinists, and clay modelers were
also available also partly due their involvement with motorsport
Still during the 1960s, British manufacturers sought professional
help from the Italians, such as
Giovanni Michelotti ,
Ercole Spada ,
Pininfarina . Notable British contributions to automobile designs
Morris Mini by
Alec Issigonis , several
Jaguar Cars by Sir
William Lyons and Malcolm Sayer,
Aston Martin DB Series, and several
cars from Triumph and MG .
Ford Europe based in Great Britain, is
notable for the
Ford Sierra line, a creation of
Uwe Bahnsen , Robert
Lutz , and
Patrick le Quément . Other British designers were William
Aston Martin cars and
David Bache for
Land Rover and Range
The 1972 BMW 2002 by
Germany is often considered the birthplace of industrial design with
Bauhaus School of Design. However, the
Nazi regime closed down the
Ferdinand Porsche and his family played a significant
role in German design.
Mercedes Benz passenger cars were also in
luxury segment and played more importance to aesthetics. After the
1980s, German design evolved into a distinctive Teutonic style often
to complement their high engineered cars suited to Autobahns. The
early German design clues of present-day owes some part to Italian
Giovanni Michelotti ,
Ercole Spada ,
Bruno Sacco , and
Giorgetto Giugiaro . During the mid- and late-20th century one of the
most influential coach builder/designer in Germany was Karmann.
German designs started gaining popularity after the 1980s, notable
after the formation of
Volkswagen , which was dependent on
Marcello Gandini ,
Giorgetto Giugiaro , and
Karmann , later formed the
contemporary design language along with Audi. BMW entered the
automobile design with a sporty-looking everyday sedans using Giovanni
Michelotti . These models were later enhanced by
Ercole Spada into the
1980s, and Klaus Luthe until the mid-1990s. The American born designer
Chris Bangle was hired by BMW in the late-1990s to re-define the
brand. Bangle incorporated new single press technology for compound
curves to add controversial styling elements to his designs.
Porsche family contribution were instrumental in the evolution of
Porsche cars, while the Italian designer
Bruno Sacco helped create
various Mercedes Models from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Ferrari Testarossa from
Pininfarina Studios by Leonardo
In Italy, companies like Fiat and Alfa Romeo played a major role in
car design. Many coach builders were dependent on these two major
manufacturers. Italian manufacturers had a large presence in
motorsports leading to several sport car manufacturers like
Maserati , etc. During the late-1950s, Italian
automobile designs gained global popularity coinciding with the modern
fashion and architecture at that time around the world. Various design
and technical schools in
Turin turned out designers in large scale. By
the late-1960s almost all Italian coach builders transformed into
design studios catering to automakers around the world. The trend
continued in the 1990s, when the Japanese and Korean manufacturers
sourced designs from these styling studios. One example is Pininfarina
Italian designers whose designs services were sought globally are
Giovanni Michelotti ,
Ercole Spada ,
Bruno Sacco ,
Marcello Gandini ,
Giorgetto Giugiaro .
Ursaab, an early Saab concept illustrating an advanced headlamp
Sweden had Volvo and Saab as domestic automakers, and the nation's
northern location required that cars needed to withstand Nordic
climate conditions. The
Scandinavian design elements are known for
their minimalism and simplicity. One of the early original
Scandinavian designs was the
Saab 92001 by Sixten Sason and Gunnar
Tatra T77 is the first serial-produced
aerodynamically designed automobile designed by
Hans Ledwinka and Paul
World War II
World War II and until the early-1990s,
strong presence in the automotive industry with manufacturers like
Skoda , Jawa , Tatra , CZ , Praga , and
Zetor . Czech automobiles were
generally known for their originality in mechanical simplicity and
designs were remarkably
Bohemian as evident from Tatra cars and Jawa
motorcycles. During the
Communist regime, design started falling back
and ultimately the domestic automakers ended up as subsidiaries of
Automotive design terminology
Car body style
* Category:automobile designers , list of automotive designers
Computer-aided industrial design
* Ponton styling
Solid freeform fabrication
* Three-box design
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