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Automakers should focus on making more iconic cars, Ralph Gilles says

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Dodge President and CEO Ralph Gilles addresses the AutoWeek Design Forum on Jan. 14, 2010.

by Jason Rzucidlo

americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- Ralph Gilles is the President and CEO of the Dodge car brand and the Senior Vice President of Product Design for the Chrysler Group LLC. He was the keynote speaker at the AutoWeek Design Forum on January 14 at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Gilles said Chrysler will be releasing 16 new products by the end of next year. He said 11 of those would be deeply modified designs. Gilles challenged other automakers to think outside the box when designing their new models.

"All designers need to think about creating the next icon," Gilles said. "Icons are it. Dig deep and freak each other out. Our first platform comes from Fiat. There will be very little overlap. There's already some copycats of the smart car. The first generation Prius, people forgot about it. Imprinting can transcend brands."

Over 60 million millennials (people who were born between 1980 and 2000) will be getting their licenses next year and will be looking to buy a car.

"Socialization is the most important factor of their lives," the President and CEO of the Dodge car brand said. "It's going to be more about the brand."

David Muyres is the co-founder of OnGoingTransportation, vice president of HuntGreen LLC and a consultant at NewNorth Center for Design in Business.

"The United States needs a long-term vision for transportation," Muyres said. "Create a playing field to develop new business. Cars are incredible now. What's desirable and sexy in the future needs to be here. How it's sold is likely to change. Spend as much time developing new business models with technology. Cars will be known as appliances. Sharing is a nice way to go."

John Wendl is the content director of Turn 10 Studios, which developed the Forza motorsport franchise. He showed about a couple minutes of the new Forza Motorsport 3 video game to the audience. Wendl said that he can have new cars included in the video game before they actually hit the road by studying every detail of the new vehicles.

"We can capture how the chassis flexes," Wendl said about the video game experience. "The car just feels right. New audiences mean new ways to entertain. Just the beginning of social media and user-generated content (UGC)."

Bruce Campbell is the vice president of design for Nissan Design America, Inc. He also called for automakers to come up with fresh, new designs.

"Where did good design go?" Campbell asked. "Do we really need a renaissance? Nissan is less guilty in this idea of saneness. There is a problem, not many bright points out there. The bad global economy. There's fear out there. It leads to the saneness of design. We're simply copying, which is a huge problem. Turn some of that fear into fearless action. We're designing for business. We should be designing for people. We've lost a focus. We need to express what we technology is, not be afraid of saying, 'let's be bold.' It's the perfect time to have a bold action.

The AutoWeek Editor's Choice Awards were handed out at the conference. The Audi E-Tron was awarded the Best in Show award. The MINI Beachcomber concept was named Most Fun Vehicle and the Volkswagen NCC was awarded the Best Concept. The Ford Focus won the Most Significant Vehicle award.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Gilles says that Chrysler is borrowing the iPhone technology for its new vehicles and is fixing the fundamentals.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

AutoWeek Editor Wes Raynal gets ready to anounce the Editor's Choice Awards

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Accepting the most fun vehicle award for the MINI Beachcomber

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Accepting the most significant vehicle award for the Ford Focus

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Ford Motor Co. representative

 

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This page was last updated on Sat, January 30, 2010 10:36 PM

 

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