Insights Archive

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January 2015


Have you noticed...? The face change

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For some time now the premium brands – most notably Audi and Mercedes have offered variation in their face design. By creating different finishes for the grille surround and inner texture– and even playing around with how the logo mark is placed – they clearly differentiate two trim levels, typically orientation one aesthetic towards ‘sporty’ and one on a ‘traditional’ finish.

In Detroit, we saw other premium brands (Jaguar) but also mainstream brands (Ford, Toyota, Nissan) using this approach to great effect to give a greater breadth of flavour to mass-market products.

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Detroit, once home of car design

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Motorcity.  No city is more home of the car; and home of car design too – this is where Harley Earl set up his Art and Colour studio in 1927 and where tape drawing and clay modelling were invented too.  

But just as Marchionne said at the show that Fiat is a Brazilian brand with an Italian origin, so we wonder if now car design is more of a Californian, Asian and European discipline with a Detroit origin…

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Should cars have a recall light?

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2014 was a bad year for automotive recalls. GM's poorly-designed ignition switches and Takata Corporation's faulty airbags have prompted the recall of tens of million of cars alone, and many more of the smaller, more "common" recalls have continued just the same. But beyond the media coverage of those big stories, there remains a very antiquated and unreliable system for actually getting recalled cars back into dealerships for repair. 

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Driver-less car design: Sleep-walking into the future?

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There is something hugely appealing about the driver-less car. Even the most gear-headed among us has sat in a traffic jam and thought ‘surely I could be doing something better with my time’.

At CES this week, Mercedes-Benz unveiled their F015 Luxury in Motion driverless car concept to showcase some ideas around this. It’s a hugely significant juncture for both automotive design and advanced mobility, dripping with some undoubtedly very alluring tech.

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Doing a Montblanc

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So - we’ve all seen the Montblanc e-Strap yes?  A watch strap that has smart-watch functionality and thus complements the analogue watch it holds onto your wrist - and not necessarily a Monteblanc analogue watch at that.  A very clever idea and surely the first disruptive bit of tech for 2015?

It’s significant for many reasons; but its greatest significance for us is for its implication (or potential implication) on the car space.

Why?  Because car brands are still fighting a losing battle in preserving a closed loop approach to their in-car experiences, and yet they could be ‘doing a Monteblanc’ and invading the in-car experience of their competitors 

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