[Interview with the designer of YesAuto] Among the many domestic Chinese brand car companies, when you mention Zotye, many netizens may immediately think of many of its products that can find “prototype cars” in China, which also makes Zotye a highly controversial one. For these ridicules, manufacturers will naturally not turn a deaf ear to these ridicules. In the midst of controversy, Zotye has already begun the road of seeking positive design. At this year’s Beijing Auto Show, Zotye launched the i-across concept car and released a new design language “Taofa, natural wisdom, beauty, nature”, but a concept car that represents the future design concept does not seem to be enough to reverse the past reputation. , Zotye’s desire to change its own image and its efforts to realize original design also goes beyond this.
On September 18 this year, Anthony Williams-Kenny, former design director of SAIC Group Europe/Global Design Director of MG Automotive, officially joined Zotye, and he has also become another international designer who has joined a Chinese brand. The joining of Anthony Williams-Kenny also indicates that Zotye's original design path will become more and more determined. At the Zotye China Car Design Competition held in Hangzhou, we were also fortunate to interview Mr. Anthony Williams-Kenny, who was shortly after taking office, and let him talk about Zotye’s original design.
Tony graduated from Coventry University in the United Kingdom with a bachelor's degree in transportation design (BA, Transport Design) and a master's degree in automotive design (MA, Automotive Design). After graduation, he worked at MRDE Mitsubishi Motors European Design Center in Germany. After that, he entered the MG Rover Design Center at the time. The most well-known one was joining SAIC Motor after 2005 and serving as the global design director of SAIC Motor Design Center. And has been working for nearly 13 years.
As a former SAIC designer, Anthony Williams-Kenny has played a very important role in the design changes of the two major brands of SAIC passenger cars Roewe and MG. Since joining Roewe as the chief designer in 2005, Anthony Williams-Kenny and his colleagues began to lead the design of two major brands of SAIC passenger cars, including Roewe 550, Roewe i6, Roewe RX5, MG Icon concept car, MG3 , MG GS and other models have the in-depth participation of Anthony Williams-Kenny.
When it comes to design, Zotye’s design department is not familiar to many people, but as an independent car company, Zotye naturally has its own design department, and it has design centers not only in China but also overseas.
At present, Zotye has four major design centers around the world, located in Turin, Italy, Yokohama, Japan, Hangzhou, China, and Chongqing, China. The total number of designers exceeds 2,000. Among them, the Torino Design Center is mainly responsible for the complex forward-looking creation part, the Yokohama Design Center is responsible for interior and refined design research, the Hangzhou Design Center is the styling development center for all Zotye mass-produced models, and Chongqing is the collaboration The role of operational communication between major business units. The status of Hangzhou Design Center is similar to the design headquarters, and Anthony Williams-Kenny will also carry out work here in the future.
Someone may ask, since Zotye has its own design center, why is there such a controversial product of the SR series that was born? This should also mention Zotye’s “business department system” (now renamed as base) at that time. Zotye’s subsidiaries have Yongkang base (in charge of T series SUVs), Hangzhou base, Linyi base (in charge of SR series models), and Hunan base (in charge of Z100 and Cloud 100S, etc.) Jinhua base, Hubei base and Chongqing base, etc. At that time, these bases could almost be regarded as independent companies, which also caused the vertical development of the Zotye brand to be hindered to a certain extent. But with the addition of Anthony Williams-Kenny, this situation may usher in a change.
At this year’s Beijing Auto Show, Zotye formally launched its new original design concept “Tao Fa, Natural Wisdom, Beauty”, and unveiled the concept car i-across designed based on this concept, and the joining of Anthony Williams-Kenny will be responsible for it. The construction of “Wisdom China Car” is based on the ZFA platform architecture (Make it Flexible) system independently developed by Zotye, under which i.AFA (compact car platform), I.BFA (medium car platform), and I.LFA are attached. (Luxury vertical platform) These three platforms, the models under this architecture can be equipped with advanced intelligent driving assistance systems in the future. Under this framework, different types of traditional cars and new energy vehicles including cars, SUVs, MPVs, station wagons, etc. will be developed, including full-size SUVs, new compact coupe SUVs, new smart SUVs, and new luxury coupes. More than ten models such as SUV, executive MPV, new compact sports sedan, new sports station wagon, and new crossover station wagon will be developed under the leadership of Anthony Williams-Kenny.
After being troubled by the previous word-of-mouth, Zotye naturally hoped to improve its reputation through good original design after inviting Anthony Williams-Kenny. Through Anthony Williams-Kenny, we also learned that Zotye gave him enough dominant rights. I also hope to help Zotye continue to make progress through the works brought by him and the team. The future design goal is to create a unique and individual brand. Zotye released a new concept car i-across at the Beijing Auto Show not long ago. Its core element is Zotye's new design concept, “The Way is Natural, Wisdom, Beauty, and Nature”. The concept of Anthony Williams-Kenny emphasizes a concept of nature, intelligence and beauty. With this concept, Zotye Auto can stand out from many rivals.
Perhaps many netizens will have doubts. Can a foreign designer understand China's profound culture? In particular, is it the artistic conception of “Tao” and “Tao law, nature, wisdom and beauty”? In fact, he was not too worried. After all, Anthony Williams-Kenny has been in China for more than 10 years, and he is well versed in Chinese culture. Through the interview, we also learned that in his mind, Tao should be a kind of balance, that is, to find a balance between Chinese traditional culture and the product that he hopes to design finally, and at the same time conform to the global trend. He said that the current Chinese automobile market is developing very rapidly, and Chinese automobile consumers are also very mature, and the requirements are naturally getting higher and higher. At the same time, there are many competing products on the market. For him, he hopes to highlight the elements of nature, intelligence and beauty. Through his understanding over the years, he feels that Chinese consumers pay more attention to the communication and communication between people and the environment, which should also be the content referred to by “the way of nature”.
He had been working in Shanghai before and came to Hangzhou. He found that while the city shows modernity, it also retains many traditional elements. The two intersect very naturally. From the perspective of car design, the car The surface, lines, and some design elements of the city can draw inspiration from here, and achieve a kind of harmony and smoothness like this city.
In the past two years, many Chinese brands have invited overseas design experts to help out, and they have also made changes to their products that are in line with Chinese consumers' preferences. At the same time, these overseas designers also have a common hobby, which is to highlight the “Chinese elements” very much. Will Anthony Williams-Kenny follow this “tradition” in the future? He joined Zotye for a short time and said that in fact, everyone is not deliberately pursuing Chinese elements to please consumers, but to show Chinese elements on the basis of the same pursuit of design beauty. He is still sorting out the entire team. As well as their operating procedures, it may be a bit early for him to be eager to embody the goal of Chinese elements. He also knows that this is a topic that is constantly being discussed. As China is the world's largest auto market, Chinese customers always have a certain degree of favor for Chinese elements. And their goal is to continuously explore Chinese elements and develop products that can attract Chinese consumers to choose and meet the aesthetics of today. Chinese consumers pay more attention to balance and harmony. I hope these can be applied to the design of Zotye cars in the future. In today's market development and progress is very fast, we will continue to try some new features.
Anthony Williams-Kenny said that Zotye's design itself has a lot of room for improvement, but it cannot be at the expense of design quality. Zotye should pursue a natural fusion of expressiveness and design quality, which should also reflect the Chinese elements in Zotye's heart.
After Anthony Williams-Kenny joined Zotye and communicated with the team, he learned that Zotye’s future goals and at the same time learned that Zotye’s leadership is willing to accept some challenges. This is also very important information for designers. The i-across concept car shows the design concept of Zotye 3.0 era, pursuing a combination of nature, intelligence and aesthetics, which is a sense of overall harmony.
According to Zotye’s internal division, they classified 2008, 5008 and other models as Zotye 1.0-era products. Later, with the initial accumulation of technology and R&D, the T700, T500 and T300 were born, which were classified as 2.0-era products. In the 1.0 and 2.0 eras There is also a section in the middle of the controversial SR series and Damai series products. In fact, imitation is a stage in the process of the automobile industry. The original Japanese and many Chinese brands were also ethical in the early stage, but this does not prevent them from being final. On the road of positive R&D, with such a history, Zotye may be more solid in independent R&D. In the future, designing a variety of products based on the i-across concept will be the product of Zotye 3.0 era. At the same time, he said that the team is constantly adding new members. These members come from some famous auto manufacturers from all over the country and even the world. Their joining has brought some new experiences and some new ideas, and Anthony Williams-Kenny What we need to do is to integrate the ideas of all these people together and use this to improve the quality of Zotye's design.
When it comes to design, one of the current mainstream manufacturers in China is a highly family-oriented and unified design, and the other is a diversified development of these two major schools. With the introduction of concept cars and design concepts, Zotye has naturally moved towards ” The road of “family design” is also a typical first step in the positive development of the brand. We all know that Zotye has multiple business units and multiple product lines, and different designs are not conducive to the promotion of the brand. By developing a family-based design language and applying it to more products, it can be as soon as possible To form a new and unified image, Anthony Williams-Kenny said that he and his team will use the i-across concept car as the basis to make an adjustment to the existing product, and will usher in the first result in 2019. It is understood that the first product under the 3.0 design concept should be a brand new mid-size SUV, based on Zotye’s latest platform, and it will also be the first work delivered by Anthony Williams-Kenny after coming to Zotye.
Anthony Williams-Kenny, who has just arrived at Zotye, will also face such challenges, such as team integration and construction, and at the same time re-finding the positioning and goals, which can not be completed in three or two days. Nowadays, the development of the domestic market is obvious to all. Consumers are demanding more and more cars. If they do not advance, they will retreat. Anthony Williams-Kenny said that Zotye’s current positioning is relatively close to the people, and consumers are more likely to accept it. However, even so, consumers also hope that the product design quality and product quality can meet their expectations, and he seems very confident to be able to Meet the needs of future consumers.
to sum up:
We have all seen Zotye’s determination to take the opportunity of its 15th anniversary to embark on the road of independent design. We have launched a new original design concept “Tao law, natural wisdom, beautiful nature”, and the joining of Anthony Williams-Kenny will further help. It builds the “Wisdom Chinese Car”. In the end, can Zotye make a gorgeous turn? let us wait and see.