A family loses but in the end we all lose- AUTO DESIGN WEEK IN REVIEW – 2/20/12

This week brings some sad news from the land of automotive design as a sexual object and some practical news on the whole hybrid/electric car dilemma.  In addition, the PR guys and gals are running in overdrive as countless details are “leaked” in advance of upcoming models and the Geneva Auto Show.  First, to the sad news;

Ferarri FF by Pininfarina

Family Loses Control of Design Studio

In the annals of automotive design firms, few names carry the luster and lust of Pinin Farina.  Unfortunately, the company has had its share of financial hardships over the past few years and coupled with the last scion of the family dying in scooter accident four years ago, the future looks bleak.  Now it appears the banks are going to take control of the studio unless a suitor comes forward.  <Sigh>

Audi Baby-R8

This past week’s leaked news, spy shots and articles on upcoming models reads like a journalist’s wet dream.  Perhaps the most intriguing is news on the baby R8 from Audi.  Doesn’t matter what you call it, the car will immediately appear on my Top-5 list of cars to buy after I win the Powerball lottery.  PS Does Brenda Piddy have the greatest job in the world or what?

Kia Rear Wheel Drive Sedan

Kia looks set to get its own version of the Genesis sedan, codenamed KH (or K9 depending on who you believe) as the car was snapped undergoing winter testing by none other than Ms. Priddy.  I like the Optima styling much better than the Sonata, and see the family genes in this model so I expect it will be quite stunning by the time we see the full production version.  Now, if we can only get Schreyer and company to do the same for the coupe.

Porsche Macan

As the 911 continued its flight into the unobtainable reaches of the stratosphere, Porsche at least managed to introduce a car that redefined the notion of achievable sports cars like the Boxster.  The same is now true of their SUV’s as the new Macan slots in under the Cayenne and will share parts with the Audi Q5.  Personally I liked the Cajun name better.

Morgan Plus E Electric

Not to be outdone by Silicon Valley, the folks in Worcestershire have decided that what an electric car really needs is a manual transmission.  I say here here!  PS Click here to schedule a factory visit.  And look for the Plus E in Geneva.

Mini Clubvan Concept

OK, so I have to admit right up front I own a Mini Cooper.  But I also have to admit I am suffering from Mini-model-fatigue.  Never heard of it?  Its the syndrome that happens when you start to lose interest in the newest Mini introduction.  Just in case some of you don’t have it yet, perhaps you are interested in their latest development (to be introduced in Geneva as well).

Mithos Concept

Something you probably won’t see in Geneva is this futuristic concept from Portuguese designer Tiago Miguel Inacio.  Why not?  Because it will probably be teleported elsewhere. Read the article to see why.

Hybrids and Electrics in the News

Speaking of hybrids, electric cars and other advanced technologies, there were some great articles this past week in the Detroit Free Press and some other newspapers.  Such as a description how the electric starter actually killed the electric car in 1912.  Or really a nice piece on John Krafcik, Hyundai’s US CEO.  If you want to read which car reviews were read most often on the Chicago Tribune’s website, go here – probably a good thing to do in the week after the Chicago show.  And finally the NY Times had a great article about the complexity of the hybrid market – and why things aren’t exactly as they seem.

News on the Water

What happens when an auto designer leaves the car industry?  Many never retire but just follow another passion like architecture or art.  Patrick le Quement followed his passion into boats – read about it here.

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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