[YesAuto Design Decoding] Speaking of GM, it may be the world’s largest automobile group with the richest brands besides Volkswagen: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, as well as SAIC-GM-Wuling, which was born in large numbers. Relying on their distinct positioning, they have a place in the global automotive market. So how can these brands maintain their own styles in design while also satisfying the needs of consumers around the world? How to control the future design style of the group? Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Micheal Simcoe, GM’s seventh general design chief, GM’s vice president of global design, and let him talk about how to please consumers through design.
Who is Simcoe?
There is a “good tradition” in GM Group, and there is a leader in charge of design to “control the overall situation” in the senior management. This tradition stems from the legendary designer Harley J. Earl in the history of GM. He designed the world’s first concept car Buick Y-job that year, and also pioneered the design method of sludge model. Many design elements have a profound impact on the automotive industry.
Closer to home, when it comes to Micheal Simcoe, he is an out-and-out old “GM”: in 1983, he joined GM's Australian Holden Motor Company as a designer, and worked successively in Holden, Australia, GM South Korea Design Center and GM headquarters in the United States, during which they designed a series of classic best-selling models of GM. In 2016, Simcoe was formally promoted to GM's global design vice president. Isn't it a blessing to be able to give one's career to a company?
What will Simcoe do in the future?
After taking office, Simcoe's ties with China have become increasingly close. In this visit to China, in addition to daily work communication, Simcoe also specially came to GM China Forward Design Center to promote the construction of the forward design center.
Our topic starts from China. When talking about China's car design, Simcoe is also impressed by the rapid changes in China's overall car design level in recent years. When he first came to China, global brands were dominant in design. In the past three to five years, local brands and joint venture brands have also begun to play a leading role.
At present, the Internet has become an important channel for obtaining information. This information has flattened the market and created the same user expectations globally. Therefore, Chinese consumers can get global new car news as soon as possible. At the same time, due to the rapid development of the Chinese automobile consumer market, the Chinese market has already led the design trend in some aspects, because the market here is changing rapidly.
Nowadays, many auto brands like to find an attractive “label” for their products: such as youth, sports, technology, luxury, etc., so I am curious how, as the “designer” of GM Group, how to design Define the product characteristics of its different brands?
However, Simcoe disagrees deeply: “These labels are not in the design itself, but in the brand marketing level. I am more pragmatic, and I will not use particularly gorgeous language in the description of the brand.” In the exchange, Simcoe said that every brand of GM has There are diversified product sequences, and iconic designs are needed to further highlight brand elements.
Although Mr. Simcoe did not deliberately emphasized it, we can also see from Chevrolet's recent changes that more and more young and sporty design elements are beginning to appear on its products.
In addition, there is another interesting topic: what should the car of the future look like? If the cars of the future do not have internal combustion engines and become self-driving, will they become what they look like in science fiction movies?
Simcoe does not agree with this. In his view, form obeys function is the eternal truth. It is true that electric vehicles can be designed with different body forms due to different drive structures, but there is no need to deliberately make electric vehicles look different. Electric vehicles still need to have practical space, as well as the body structure and components necessary for walking, so how to meet the needs of customers is still the first priority of the design.
But when it comes to the design of the car, Simcoe said that the design must “advance with the times”-nowadays, the technological configuration is more and more popular in the car, so how to design a good way of dialogue between people and cars is for designers That poses a serious challenge. For this reason, the current designer composition of GM Group is becoming more and more diversified , and more and more interface designers and even game designers have begun to engage in cross-border work in a large automobile company.
Simcoe also talked half-jokingly in the interview that he was born in a small design studio. Such work experience has given him a wealth of automotive engineering knowledge and has grown into a real designer. However, when it comes to brand understanding, Chinese consumers are obviously not as familiar with Chevrolet as Simcoe. How to make Corvette Sorod, a benchmark model far away from the Chinese market, take root in the hearts of Chinese consumers, thereby enhancing the image of the entire brand And awareness may be Simcoe's next important work.