Chrysler Designer Talks Loyalty, Forward Thinking

Despite bleak industry outlook, Ralph Gilles keeps the faith

Chrysler 200C EV Concept

Chrysler 200C (Source: Chrysler)

Are there nontraditional ways to pursue this career path?

For the most part, it’s important that you attend a design school. There are some exceptions where we’ve hired product designers who may have studied architecture. Within the car design world there are a lot of disciplines, now more than ever, like connectivity and the art of the human and machine interface – which is more like consumer electronics than the traditional car stereo and navigation formula.

Based on design trend indicators (e.g. auto shows) and the advent of electric vehicles, where do you see car design heading?

Most definitely, aerodynamics and fuel efficiency are going to play an even bigger role. Designers will spend more time in the wind tunnel than ever before. Interior packaging will continue to grow as we move toward alternative fuel vehicles. With new advances in technology and the flexibility of powertrain packaging, you’ll start to see the interior space increase and become more functional.

What types of styles can we expect to see in upcoming years?

I’m reluctant to give you an answer because it’s in my nature not to follow the trend. The challenge for most car designers is not to seem like we’re following the trend but instead coming up with the not-so-obvious solution. We are always going to look for ways to not play follow the leader but instead we want to lead and design products that not only have a unique look but also facilitate life (like our stow ‘n go minivan seating) and setting trends!

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