The Chinese Range Rover Evoque clone Landwind X7 has revived an old habit among Chinese automakers, of whom we had thought they’d have grown up by now and had quit copying foreign car designs. However, last month two of the three all-new models launched in China are blatant copy-paste jobs again. You’d think that especially Changan, the largest of China’s domestic auto brands with almost a million domestic sales last year, would be large enough to have their own design department. But no, they just decided to screw over their own Joint Venture partner Ford by “taking inspiration” from the Ford Explorer for their new Changan CX70 SUV. Especially from the rear ¾ the door profiles, C-pillar and rear side window, the chrome bar between the rear lights look an awful lot like the Explorer. At the front the headlights are a bit more stretched and the grille is a bit thinner, but the placement of the hood is similar and the bottom end of the bumper also. The entire car is a bit narrower, giving it different dimensions, but the resemblance is still remarkable. Maybe it’s a stab at Ford for planning to have the Explorer for the local Chinese market produced by its Jiangling-Ford joint venture which produces its commercial vans and the Everest SUV. Not sure what Ford thinks of this design from the company that produces all other Ford passenger cars including the Edge SUV for the local market, but I don’t think they’re going to make a big deal of it unless Changan starts to export it to the US, which is highly unlikely. And 72 sales in its first month on the market don’t make it an instant blockbuster that could threaten the Explorer either. [Read more…]
If you already find modern F1 races sleep inducingly dull, imagine what a race between autonomous cars would look like…. The concept of a driverless racing car doesn’t seem to make sense at first, but the reasoning behind the ED Design Torq is almost as simple as it is laughable. Michael Robinson, Design director and CEO of ED Design, has noticed that new technology in production vehicles is usually first developed and tested in racing cars on a circuit before hitting the streets in the cars you and me can buy. He also noticed increasing investments in autonomous driving by almost any major car manufacturer. He then combined these two ideas to conclude the world desperately needs a driverless racing car to test the technology before self-driving cars can hit our streets. He jumped into this supposed opportunity and created the Torq, a racing car without windows and without a steering wheel.
Thankfully, ED Design isn’t yet planning to start a racing series with autonomous cars anytime soon, but instead will build a handful of Torq driverless cars in the next 24 hours and rent them out to major automakers, IT companies and government lawmakers as “Mobile Autonomous Automobile Laboratory” for them to experiment with driverless cars and to turn it into an “open-source” technology. The press release states “MAAL asks researchers around the world to join this noble endeavor in the automotive industry to stop killing millions of people.” [Read more…]
Audi exterior designers are known in the automotive world to be among the laziest in the business, they’re the automotive design equivalent of koalas: sleeping for 18 hours a day until a deadline approaches, at which time they’ll just pull an existing design from the drawer and make a few quick changes and then convince their bosses that evolutionary design keeps the outgoing model from looking old, which should help resale values of the brand. And the amazing thing is that they actually get away with it, because apparently it does seem to work like that, not only in theory.
And now Volkswagen designers seem to have been contaminated by the same laziness virus, as they’ve first proven with the “eighth” generation Passat, which really should be called the seven-and-a-halfth generation, especially when looking at it from the rear three quarters. Usually, a new model generation would imply that the car is completely redesigned, while a facelift means that the so-called hard points, like the window frames and door pillars stay the same, and only minor changes are made to the headlights and taillights, with subsequently the hood and boot lid, and sometimes even the front wings.
But with the Passat, they couldn’t be bothered to change the C-pillar, or even something simple like the shape of the rear lights or fender, which means it should be classified as only a minor facelift, even if the platform and engines have been completely reworked. The designers must have realized this when they saw the final clay model, and in order to make the world believe they had actually done any work, they sneaked back into the studio the night before the design was frozen and quickly made the belt line a bit more pronounced. [Read more…]
Belgian automotive writer Bart Lenaerts and his wife, photographer Lies De Mol, have published a new book. People familiar with their previous work will know that this means something special has been created once again. The creators of the already legendary automotive bible “Waft” and its equally must-read sequel “Waft 2”, always capture the imagination of the reader and don’t follow the beaten track.
“Spada. The long story of a short tail” describes the history and career of the Italian automotive designer Ercole Spada and his son Paolo. Over his 50-year long career, Spada has designed and worked on a number of famous and price-winning designs, like the Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ and Lancia Flavia. Together they have created the spectacular Spada Codatronca. But knowing Lenaerts, don’t expect a simple recital of Spada’s work, this book will read like an exciting story about passion for automotive design, and the relationship between a father and his son. Lenaerts is always in search of a different perspective, and his wife tops it off visually with exquisite photographic decoration.
The new book is in the same size and layout as their previous books, so 30cm x 30cm hardcover, 304 pages and can be ordered through their website waft.be. Early birds ordering the book before June 6th get a € 10,- discount on the € 90,- purchase price. If you think that’s a lot of money for a book I agree with you, but bear in mind this is not just another biography, more like a passionate narrative of the man behind the design, and features Spada designs that have never been published before. The connoisseurs who have read the limited edition “Waft” books and “Masters of modern car design”, know these are true collector’s items worth every cent.
Regular readers have been personally invited to pick up their copy on the evening of June 5th in the Brussels Automotive museum Autoworld, signed and presented by Ercole Spada himself. The museum will have a special collection on display featuring some of Spada’s designs, like the Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, Alfa TZ1, de Alfa Junior Zagato and the Lancia’s Fulvia and Flaminia Zagato. [Read more…]
Last week, Ford Chief designer J Mays announced his retirement after 33 years in the industry with positions at Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and the last 16 years at Ford. I’ve made a compilation of some of his quotes from the must-read book Ever Since I Was A Young Boy I’ve Been Drawing Cars – Masters of Modern Car Design by Bart Lenaerts and Lies de Mol and combined it with some of the most notable the cars he designed, worked on or which were designed under his supervision. Most have been successful, but some have been unsuccessful, either commercially or esthetically (or both). Let me know in the comment box below if you think the quote and the car match, or not at all.
“Something premium doesn’t have to scream. And by not doing so, it generates more confidence and longevity.”
“Nothing wrong with German automobiles: they’re still among the best in the world. But they’re so sober. A German vehicle that’s tongue-in-cheek? It just doesn’t happen.” [Read more…]