2012 NAIAS – Fashion, Trends and Fads

With the Detroit show coming only 2 months on the heels of the Los Angeles show, it is difficult to identify if a new design idea or finish is a trend or fad.  What is obvious, is that all the major manufacturers are struggling to various degrees to either find their space in the market or defend the space they currently have.  And design is a very large part of defining that space.  So, in the interest of keeping things simple, I am going to only highlight the differences from November’s report on Fashion, Trends and Fads from Los Angeles.


Toyota NS4 Concept

As a nod to that one person who thinks all I do is talk about wheels, I though it best if I start off with them.  The biggest trend these days seems to be the continued movement towards more intricate designs and finishes – think watch design.  Most of the new vehicle introductions featured either multi-spokes, interesting spoke shapes, multiple finishes or a combination of all three.  Especially striking was the polished and semi-matte black wheels on the Toyota NS4 concept.   Most common?  Multi-color designs were found on almost every new car or concept introduction at the show (check out the full gallery on my flikr site here).


Lincoln MKZ Concept

The combination of finishes is also happening on grilles.  Gone are the days when a grille design meant developing a surround shape, covering it in bright chrome and adding some grille bars in the middle (as Max says either vertical or horizontal).  Bright Chrome is either just used to highlight the surfaces like on Ford’s new Fusion or combined with satin chrome like on the MKZ Concept.  Many of the concepts and new production vehicles at the show used a combination of bright and satin chrome for their grilles.


2012 BMW 3-Series

2013 Cadillac ATS

As in Los Angeles, we are seeing lighting systems that are being designed to be more integrated with the grilles as on the new BMW 3-Series.  And the shapes are changing too.  Just look at the headlamp on the new Cadillac ATS.

2013 Dodge Dart

And lighting just isn’t for daytime anymore.  If your brand doesn’t have a signature look to its lighting at night you are missing out on the most recent trend in lighting.


2013 Ford Fusion

Color has to also be the story on interiors as many of the concepts and new production vehicles showed a new attention to richness in their designs.  Warm and inviting chocolate browns and similar colors were displayed on numerous vehicles.


Lexus LF-LC Concept

Two specific other components struck my attention at the show this year – one I like and one I don’t.  First was the gas, brake and clutch pedals in the new Lexus LF-LC Concept (LIKE).

Acura ILX Concept

And second was the continued use of the odd cross-section shape of Honda product exterior door handles (DON’T – it just doesn’t feel right to my hand).


Toyota FCV-R Concept

The final area I wish to call attention to is the design cues that identify an electric or hybrid vehicle.  In my other reports last year I was questioning which design cue will win out as standard way to identify this vehicles.  Well, the jury has voted, and the answer is just color it blue.  From the blue paint of Nissan’s electrics, to the blue band on the BMW iSeries’ tires (do we call them bluelines? as compared to the redlines of old) to the blue tint on the Toyota NS4 wheels, blue is the answer.

Sunday we will review the events at this weeks show as well as a few new auto show awards of our own.  Don’t miss it.

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of CarFriend.me and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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