Automotive design still more art than science image

While sophisticated and future-like technology keeps finding new places in our new cars, the fact that it’s also used everywhere in the modern auto styling studio doesn’t negate the essential human input.

Today, mainly because of the way we govern our day-to-day operations in life, infotainment systems and fuel economy are becoming increasingly competitive purchase elements, a car’s design is still one of the critical factors when buyers select their next car, according to many studies.

“The artistic aspect is critical to car design,” says Tom Peters, the lead designer at GM for performance cars. “It’s through the human touch the passion is instilled in cars. Our products are very tactile, you have to engage the senses.”

While there is a huge temptation to turn everything about design into digital science, there are still projects that are born through old-school methods – with Peters recalling that the current Camaro’s original drawing was made on a conventional pad while the designer waited for a plane ride.

“The DNA of a vehicle is critical, but you can’t copy,” notes Peters, who led the team on the current Camaro and Corvette. “Certain elements are timeless and might have a familiar feel but they’re not a literal translation.”

Many observers not that today’s designers face a difficult challenge – carmakers come under pressure to appeal to younger buyers, deeply entrenched in the latest technology novelty, and automotive “stylists” need to balance the need for emotional and fresh approaches to the passionless digital high-tech world we currently live in.