This afternoon Ed Welburn logged in to the GM Fastlane Blog and participated in a webchat about the role that design has in the new GM and discussing what the public would like to see next. Welburn heads up global design for GM. The discussion was lively and even gave some insight into the direction GM is trying to take for their new models, especially the small car segment.
The discussion touched many topics from the new C7 Corvette and Chevrolet Spark to the design of future interiors and hybrids. Filtering the discussion through the AllSmallCars.com lens, I noticed an energy and excitement for the small car segment and the future models that are going to come to market. Small cars were actually well represented in the discussion today, including a question that asked if there were any plans to “create a small world car family?” Welburn answered with, “I'm really excited about the Spark. I drove it on the proving grounds in Korea, it's well on it's way to production. It demonstrates that small cars can be cool, and a lot of fun. It is just one of a family of new small and mini size cars we are developing for Chevrolet.” We have it from the design leader, there are more small AND mini size cars coming from Chevrolet.
In fact, the aforementioned small cars that will be coming from GM will carry the energy and spirit of the new 2010 Chevorlet Camaro, currently GM’s best selling model. Ed said during the chat, “The same energy and spirit from Camaro is going in every Chevrolet, from next generation Aveo to next generation Impala.” And have no fear; the new GM won’t have problems with design by committee. Welburn revealed that the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro design was worked on in his “Secret Studio X” and no one saw the finished product until he and his team of designers were ready.
2011 Chevrolet Volt Production Show Car
Another interesting question was asked from AllCarsElectric.com’s Lyle Dennis (also founder of GM-Volt.com). Dennis, who recently took delivery of a MINI E, asked Welburn this question: “Do you think hybrid vehicles should have unique designs like the Prius and not simply be versions of standard cars like the Malibu was, and are you developing new unique dedicated hybrid designs for your 2 mode hybrid system and BAS+?” This is a good question and one that we have even wrestled with here on AllSmallCars.com. I have written several stories about the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and have even asked why all hybrids and electrics have to look like a four-door hatchback. Ed’s response gave me hope that maybe the drivetrain will eventually cease to define the cars style. Ed answered, “That is a subject that we debate in the studios every day. I believe it can be an advantage to give a hybrid vehicle a unique asthetic (sic). Volt (an electric vehicle) has a unique asthetic (sic) because of its aerodynamic characteristic and the creative design ideas involved. But the debate goes on...”
Fesler Moss Camaro
Bottom line—GM is trying to move into a new phase. It is interesting that at the same time the old design building, that once housed the offices of the respected Harley Earl, is being turned into an education center, we are seeing a return to designs that evoke passion and romance. If the Camaro design will influence and be a part of every new car design, especially small cars, then I can’t wait to see the fruits of Welburn and his team’s labor.
Read the full chat at the GM Fastlane Blog.
Be sure to check out the MINI E and MINI Cooper S comparison and the other blogs, reviews and more here at AllSmallCars.com. Also, check out the latest story from FamilyCarGuide.com: 2009 Toyota Highlander vs. Kia Rondo.