CAREER IN AUTOMOBILE DESIGN
VROOOOOOOOOOOM ……..your career in Automobile Design
Porsche, Maserati, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes Benz….. I am sure these are some of the names that tickle your senses and create pleasant sensations in you when thinking of Design, particularly Automobile Design. So, what does it take to become an automobile designer? Let’s introspect for a moment here. Are you “Crazy about Cars”? Do you “Sketch Cars”? Are you in a habit of collecting scaled down versions of cars? Can you name the model of cars appearing on the road? Do you have a habit of updating yourself on the latest information about automobiles? And lastly do you play with cars? If the same are a yes, then you are definitely a candidate for Automobile designing.
History of Automobile
The history of Automobile begins as early as in 1769, with the creation of steam powered engines for human transport. The story goes on to say, the first steam powered vehicle was created by Ferdinand Verbeist, a member of Jesuit mission in China during the 17th-18th century as a toy for then Chinese Emperor. The year 1886 is regarded as the birth of Modern automobile industry with Motor wagon (Benz patent) by German inventor Carl Benz. The year 1908 is regarded as a significant game changer in the automobile industry making automobiles affordable for common people with Ford launching its Model –T version.
Some of the significant development in the History of Automobiles is as below:-
- – 1815: Josef Bozek , build the oil fired steam car
- – 1865: The first passage of the Locomotive Act
- – 1867: Henry Seth Taylor , build the 4 wheeled steam buggy
- – 1873: The first real automobile was built by French Amedee Bollee who built self – propelled steam road vehicle to transport group of passengers.
- – 1886: Karl Benz , receives the German Patent
The 20th century saw steam powered automobiles continued development, but the dissemination of petrol engines as the power of choice in the late 19th century marked the end of steam automobiles. The 1950 saw an interest towards the steam –turbine powered cars, but dangers inherent in the nuclear fission technology paved way for abandoning the technology right from the start. The possibilities of steam use in 21st century did give engineers towards introspection towards sustainable and energy independence as a change towards depleting energy sources and vast amount of consumption that did the negative effect towards pollution. The solution in such a thought have led to development of alternatives such as advanced electric batteries, fuel cells, bio fuels to name a few. Such a thought stemmed the German Flocken Elektrowagen in 1988 regarded as the first electric car of the world.
Evolution: Different Era in Automobile Industry
The Evolution in the Automobile industry can be classified into 4 stages. The Vintage Era, Pre WW II Era, Post war Era & Modern Era
- 1929. The Vintage Era: This era lasted from 1919- 1929.The front- engined car with closed bodies and standardized controls came to dominate at this period of time.
Some of the prominent vehicles include
- – Austin -7:
- – Lancia Lambada
- – Bugatti type 35
- – Hanomag 2
- – Ford Model A
- – Cadillac V-16
- 1946. The Pre WWII Era: The pre-war Era WWII lasted from the great depression in 1930 till 1946. It was during this period that the wave of integrated fenders, fully closed bodies, new saloon, sedan body style incorporating a trunk or a boot in front or rear of the car started appearing on the roads.
Some of the prominent examples of Automobiles in this era includes:-
- – Alvis speed 20 &25 ( cars with all synchromesh gear box )
- – Ford v8 model B (Flat head v8 , that set new standards in performance and efficiency )
- – Tatra 77 ( serial produced car with aerodynamic design)
- – Bugatti Type 57 ( a refined automobile for the wealthy )
- – Citroen Traction Avant ( The mass produced front wheel drive automobile)
- – MG T Series ( The first affordable sports car with youth appeal)
- – Volkswagen Beetle (The one of a kind efficiency and affordable car which was in production for more than 60 years)
- – Rolls Royce Phantom 3; V12 Engine (A car with superior performance and quality for the upmarket )
- 1949. Post War Era: The post war era underwent a total Design Experience and total revolutionary changes to ponton style. This era saw Automobile design and production finally emerging from the military shadow of war in 1949.This Era saw a landmark changes in the automobile industry with high compression V8 engines, modern bodies from General Motors that lead to wake up call for other brands such as Ford. This was the era in Italy where Enzo Ferrari was beginning his 250 series , just as Lancia introduced the all-powerful V6,Aurelia.
Some of the exemplary cars in that Era includes:-
- – GAZ-M20 Pobeda: Mass car with Soviet Union in Ponton Design
- – Standard Vanguard : A British Mass car with Ponton Design
- – Mini (Rover ): The small car that lasted four decades
- – Jaguar E Type : The model that saved the brand in Track & Showroom
- – Porsche 911: The non-cheap, mass sports car. Winner of International car of the century
- – Ford Mustang : The one of the best selling cars in US & Europe
- – Datsun 240Z : The first Japanese car to be smash hit with the North American Public
- 1. Modern Era: This Era is considered to be precedence of the 25 years. This era has seen some Design and technical changes in this aspect. This era has paved way towards standardisation, platform sharing and design which are aided by computers. Some particular development includes the All-wheel drive, adoption of Diesel Engines, and Fuel Injection. The automotive industry has yet reinvented by itself towards the ever demanding Market requirements. With Design as a differentiating factor the resulting changes has seen the mutation towards many a models that stems from catering towards specific requirement. The high powered crossover Luxury SUV, Sports wagon, Large MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) are some of the defining standards of change. Rapidly rising fuel efficiency and engine output is what the Modern Era swaddles through. One of the factors include the Economic crisis in 2008 that had cut almost a third of the Light vehicle sales from brands including, Chrysler, Ford, Nissan and Honda. China with its cheap manpower and resources has become the absolute car manufacturer leader with production more than combined with US, Japan and Europe.
Some of the Exemplary cars in this Modern Era Includes
- – Toyota Corolla : Japanese sedan / small car which has been one of the best selling cars
- – Mercedes Benz S class: Technologically superior and one of the best safe cars
- – BMW 3 Series: One of the best cars
- – Tata Nano: An Inexpensive rear engine four passenger city car for the Indian people
- – Tesla Roadster: The first highway capable all electric vehicle
What’s happening in India
The Indian auto industry is the 4th largest industry in the world with sales increasing 9.5 % year on year. We are also the 7th largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in the world .The overall exports of Automobiles from India grew at 6.86 per cent CAGR, between 13-18 (FY). The size of the domestic market is with 24.7 million vehicles getting sold in 2018. We are witnessing major changes in this sector in the form of Electric vehicle, shared mobility, and Bharat stage VI, emission and safety norms. This robust growth is also supported by other factors such as availability of skilled labour @low cost, excellent R&D centre, and low cost steel production. The Indian Automotive industry is expected to reach 18.86 trillion by 2026.
How do I become a part of this industry?
Well, there are 2 roads to this ever promising industry. The manufacturing and design. Let me help you take a closer look at the not much but ever demanding Design side of this industry. A major source of attraction has been the new model and design that hits the road every year that compels ones desire to own a master piece. That man behind every design is called an “Automotive designer”.
What does an Automotive Designer Do?
His responsibilities include Developing Visual appearance, Ergonomics and aesthetics of the vehicle. They are categorized into three areas which include: Interior design, Exterior design, colour and Trim. A good car designer helps in realization of set ideas & executes it with highest level of design quality.
Job description & Work Environment
- – An Automobile designer works with a styling team during design process for each specific model
- – A team typically consist of a chief designer, exterior designers & interior designers, trim & colour designers, clay & digital model team
- – The team includes Studio Head, Managers & prototype engineers
- – The environment consist of an Office or studio
- – Workspace includes work tables for sketching, meeting rooms with white boards for brainstorming & computer for the purpose of design
- – Travelling is on your cards to design centres, testing facilities , clients workplaces and manufacturing plants
- – Your work schedule includes full time work ( 5 days a week) but may be required to do overtime to meet deadlines
- – With Many automobile factories and manufacturing plants overseas, abroad travel to meet with factory personnel is also a possibility.
- – An average salary for an Automobile designer in India starts from 7.0 lakhs per year.
- – A median annual salary in US for an Automotive designer abroad( US) is $ 67,000.
What Skill sets do I require?
Some of the skills sets required or often demanded are Sketching skills, understanding perspective, composition skills, marker rendering etc. Soft skills include Proactive mind set, Likes challenges, good at analysis, team player and contributes a wide variety of thoughts and challenges.
Where an Automobile designer does derives his inspiration from?
There are three “UNS” in this industry. It includes Unexpected, Unpredictable and Unconventionality. Cars are very aspirational products. They are also a symbol of success and embody a Dream. A design is a gift to your community or society and not a commodity. Unexpected expectation, understanding customer, Audience profiling, understanding the Mood/atmosphere of a country , people behaviour, new trends in fashion, discovery of people’s expectations are some of the inspiration that he looks forward during the design process.
Finally let me conclude by saying that “Design is a Gift” and not a commodity for your customers.