Former BMW design chief Chris Bangle had plenty of things to say regarding car design while visiting this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
In an interview with Autonews, the 60-year old stated that most of today’s car designs aren’t pushing the envelope as much as they should.
“It’s a wonderful stand, it has a wonderful amount of technology they are showing,” said Bangle while referring to the stand of a former competitor. “But as a designer I am used to a set of uniqueness and freshness and change. This will turn into a critique of [insert brand name] and I really don’t want it to be published like that, but for the life of me I can’t find a new idea. They have really good designers, but I’ve seen this all before in other places.”
While his criticism may not be aimed at a particular automaker, the way he feels about the entire industry in general is pretty obvious.
“Companies like that are getting so good at putting a sheen on what you already know that they’ll convince everybody that it’s new. And the young designers don’t know their own history. There is very little understanding where the past came from for car designers today because they are worried so much about just learning the tools. They’re being asked to do little more than just ‘ give me a little twist on what we just did.’ “
It’s quite interesting to speculate which particular brand he was referring to initially. A direct BMW competitor, well, that could be anybody from Mercedes to Audi, Volvo, Jaguar and so on. Yet, in his eyes, the entire industry is in a rut.
“If it’s left up to these hyper-conservative, hyper-terrified companies that are so huge, and where everything is resting on a bottom line that could go south at any minute…well, these are the last people to ask for the courage to go forward into the future. The LAST people.”
“They defend their brands like the virtue of Guinevere and they are doing it by putting a chastity belt around the girl and, sorry, that’s not how you make kids. That’s not how you make a future.”
Bangle himself is working on a new project for an industry start-up, yet he won’t reveal much about his current work, not yet anyway.
“I can’t tell you really anything about it. It’s an existing company that comes from a manufacturing point of view – not an automaker. They understand hardware and electric vehicles very well, but they’ve never forayed into the automotive world. They came to us a couple of years ago and said, ‘we want to do a small car,’ and I said, ‘ why don’t you go up the street. Pininfarina is up the street. They’d love to do that for you’ and these guys said, ‘No we want to do it with you.”
As for when we’ll finally see what the former BMW design boss has been working on, his answer was “much sooner than later.”