How The Internet Is Shattering Traditional Auto Designs

Design / Comments

Welcome to the world of instant gratification.

For a number of years, automotive designers used pencil and paper and clay models to realize their creations. More recently, computer technologies such as CAD have been used, and today a majority of new vehicles are designed entirely with computer software. Clay models still exist, but computers have essentially taken over. Not only does this somewhat alter the tasks of an automotive designer, but technology has changed the state of global design as a whole.

GM design chief Michael Simcoe was recently a guest on the Brembo Red podcast, hosted by President and CEO of Brembo North America, Dan Samberg. Via GM Authority, Simcoe made some interesting statements regarding the current state of automotive design and how it's been and continues to be heavily influenced by the internet.

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"I think that in the past there were differences in how the different studios, certainly in GM globally, handled design," he said. "But in the age of instant gratification, everyone sees – whether it's a developing country or a developed country – everyone is seeing a vehicle launched at the same time, all within seconds, because it's all on the net." Simcoe also explained how the internet is influencing customer tastes, specifically towards singular global designs. "So in some ways, it's flattened or leveled expectations, and in some ways, it gives a right for a developing market to have all the desires and wants of a developed country now," Simcoe said. "I mean, why shouldn't someone in a developing country want the same level of feature content?"

While there remain some differences amongst car buyers' tastes, such as color and trim preferences, the general design attitude moving forward, at least for Simcoe and his team at GM, is that "essentially the desires of the customers are all the same."

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2020 Buick Encore GX Front Angle View Chevrolet/Mike Schwartz
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Even the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and 2021 Trailblazer were designed with a global market in mind and the switch to a mid-engine layout is some proof. But Simcoe acknowledges a new reality: the internet is universal and when someone in, say, India, sees a new car, truck, or SUV coming to America, they don't see any reason why they can't have it as well.

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