IN THIS ISSUE
This is Aston Martin’s bid to relaunch the Lagonda marque not only as a super-luxury brand, but as an all-new electrically-driven experience with totally new values.“Look what companies such as Apple do," says Marek Reichman, chief creative officer, Aston Martin Lagonda. “It projects the future by creating the future, and providing a product that is futuristic for all of us. You can set your future if you create your future. That’s what we’re doing here: we’re saying of course there’s a traditional value of luxury, but there’s the modern value of luxury, which is connected to the modern high-tech world we live in. We’ve done our research: Lagonda is the first truly luxury tech-based company.
“It’s been a duopoly for too long, with just Rolls-Royce and Bentley. But can you imagine an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley turning up to a meeting in a Rolls-Royce Phantom? It’s a clash of worlds and cultures. The potential in China and other new markets is huge too. We’ve done a lot of research in those markets and found out what those customers want, and what they’re willing to be seen in.”
Reichman adds that “we can be brave, it’s a totally new aesthetic… [It] shows the scope of design opportunities that open up once you no longer need to provide space for a large power source directly in front of the passenger compartment. In the Lagonda Vision Concept, the batteries occupy the floor of the car – and everything above that line belongs to us [the designers].”
The Nucleus embodies Icona’s vision for the future of mobility. It follows on from the design consultancy’s 2015 Neo concept, which demonstrated a very tangible next step for the electric car, but jumpstwo generations ahead as a fully autonomous Level 5 vehicle. Inside, the absence of a driver not only means no steering wheel or IP: it brings the opportunity for a new understanding of mobile living spaces where the focus is no longer the road, but the destination and journey experience.
Vehicles today can boast over 50 central processing units, 150 sub-systems and 100 million lines of code: a software complexity now exceeding that of commercial airliners. And as designers explore what autonomy and semi-autonomous functions mean for the future of the automotive interior, the role of technology and how it influences the look and feel of the cabin is more significant than ever. Joe Simpson rounds up developments seen at recent shows, hears from their creators, and explores the current trends in technology that are having an impact on design
“The product positioning was very clear from day one: we wantedit to be our flagship product in the range as a company,” says Tata global head of design Pratap Bose. “We currently play in around 70 percent of the Indian market in terms of segments, but we didn’t have a premium SUV – and we thought that would be the right place to start, because of the pedigree of the platform coming from Land Rover. It is one of the best SUV platforms available, and it would be a shame not to use it for what it was designed for!”
The H5X concept is built on what Tata calls ‘Omega arc' (Optimal Modular Efficient Global Architecture), based on the Jaguar Land Rover D8 architecture, albeit adapted for the Indian market: this is one of the two new platforms that will underpin all the next-generation Tata models. It also shows the first application of Tata’s sharper, bolder and more threedimensional ‘Impact 2.0’ design language on an SUV.
“For many people, this will be their first or second car,” says Pratap Bose, Tata global head of design. “I think around 70 percent of India’s population is under the age of 30 today, and this is where a huge area of the market lies. There are 18 cars for every 1000 people in India, as opposed to about 870 in developed markets, so you can imagine where the potential is. The Indian market is growing – it’s already crossed three million units a year, it should exceed the German market in terms of volume in the next 18 months or so, and it will become the third or fourth largest market in the world in the not to distant future. And most of that growth is coming from that younger audience. So in terms of colour, language and material, we need to speak to them slightly differently with this car.”
The hatchback 45X, developed in Tata’s studio in Coventry, UK, and unveiled alongside the H5X at the Delhi Auto Expo, is the first car on the group’s new ‘Alfa arc’ (Agile Light Flexible Advanced) platform, designed for cars from around 3.8m to 4.3m long. “It is slightly more conceptual [than the H5X], because it is a little further away in our cycle plan,” says Bose, “but all our design elements, and basically all the design features, will make it into production, albeit in a slightly different format. The production car will be a little smaller, because of the segment it’s going into in India, but the design language and the design elements are all there in this car.”
At the Goodwood Revival historic motorsport meeting in September, the wraps came off a long-awaited car for British sports car fans. The Griffith is the result of a totally new venture by the current owners of TVR, who bought the brand four years ago and intend to revive production, which had ceased in 2006. And it has been designed and developed in the UK, too – by Gordon Murray Design (GMD), based in a purpose-built facility of studios and workshops just outside Guildford in Surrey. If that sounds familiar, that’s because these were the former Ferrari F1 premises, later used by McLaren in the 1990s. So it’s fair to say there’s quite a weight of expectation around this car.
“TVR did the rounds of possible development companies,” says Kevin Richards, GMD creative design director. “They came to us and realised that the synergy between the old TVR and the new TVR could be our iStream tubular structure with composite panels. That was a good start, and Gordon’s pedigree would add to the brand. They thought the combination of GMD, TVR and [engine-builder] Cosworth could be a winner.” An earlier, more retro, design TVR had commissioned was abandoned, and the all-new car took shape at GMD.
“We believe that HMI/UX will be a core trend and a big variant [differentiator] in the car industry in the future, which gives us much room to imagine the possibilities,” says Fan Zhang, GAC’s vice president and head of design. “During the design process, we always put users in the most important position. We break some routines, the space layout is all designed for people. At the same time, the intelligent vehicle system is ‘thinking’ and serving people. The flow of information between the human instructions and the man-machine interaction, working efficiently, will be immediately clearly interpreted and implemented by the car.”
HMI and UX were key elements in this project, in which the aim was to attract and impress young people, as well as to explore a new approach for designing electric vehicles. Zhang describes the target user as a “neo-geek who shows curiosity for the unknown, and is keen on intelligent equipment”, and says that while the Enverge represents a conjunction of the digital world and reality, it is also a practical vehicle for both urban life and off-road tasks (a 600km battery range is claimed, along with wireless charging capability).