Magazine article Newsweek

Detroit by the Beach: Wish They All Could Be California cars?The Auto Industry Is Looking to the Golden State for Inspiration

Magazine article Newsweek

Detroit by the Beach: Wish They All Could Be California cars?The Auto Industry Is Looking to the Golden State for Inspiration

Article excerpt

Imagine the designer who created BMW's sleek new 3-series sedan: toiling away in Munich, his days fueled by bratwurst and beer, his life steeped in Teutonic influences. Nein. Meet Erik Goplen, a 32-year-old artist born and raised in Los Angeles, who knocked off the drawings for the new Beemer in an office filled with surf bums a few miles from the beaches of Malibu. An anomaly? Not quite. A Japanese salaryman didn't design the distinctive Infiniti J30; no safety-minded Swede limned Volvo's new S80 sedan; no German design guru dreamed up the prototype for Volkswagen's New Beetle. All were conceived by Americans toiling in southern California, the new mecca for automotive design.

Marketers have long recognized that trends start on the West Coast and spread from there. Carmakers began to take advantage of that a decade ago; since then 16 car companies have opened California studios. But lately the trend has gathered speed, as brands in need of inspiration--or renovation--send their stylists West. Ford's new top designer, J Mays, is relocating his entire Lincoln Mercury staff from Detroit to Irvine. His hope: that the car-crazed Golden State's "bold confidence," along with streets filled with foreign cars, will inspire new models that can lift Mercury's moribund image. At Nissan, where sales are in free fall--off 18 percent since January--desperate executives are heaping new responsibility on San Diego-based designer Gerald Hirshberg, whose credits include the Altima and Maxima. Next January Nissan will unveil a host of new vehicles--including a small sport utility to rival Toyota's RAV4--all bearing Hirshberg's touch. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.