Educating automotive design: A scientific approach without compromising tacit knowledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The car has, more than any other, become a product with highly emotional properties and a significant impact on society. The automotive styling process as generally educated and practiced today has its foundation in the 1930’s in the Detroit studios of
General Motors and has not changed significantly since. The automotive industry and its market however have evolved dramatically. Car companies need to manage brand portfolios rather than a single brand and manage synergy between SBUs without
compromising brand identities.
It is due to the very properties of the styling process that automotive styling departments have not acquired a position in the value chain that allows an active role in corporate strategy formulation. Cynically, the tacit skills and culture that allow stylists to design
successful cars also appear to be the threshold in implementing methodologies that would allow a more influential power base. The myth of the profession is embraced passionately by those who are a part of it. Being part of a myth is even better than being
a scientist. Styling strategy and competitive advantage fail to emerge and each new model generation puts a company at a larger risk than acceptable.
Styling is currently recognized as a main automotive design driver. However it is no longer sufficient to design the next generation without a strategic context that exceeds the level of the business unit. The resources that are invested in a new car, and the
number of people that depend on it, are too high.
The challenge is to design and introduce a scientific business framework into the styling process without compromising or bounding tacit skills, which are so critical to the appeal of the final design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of E&PDE 2004, the 7th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
EditorsP. Lloyd, N. Roozenburg, C. McMahon, L. Brodhurst
PublisherThe Design Society
Number of pages8
EditionDS 33
Publication statusPublished - 2004
EventE&PDE 2004: The 7th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 2 Sept 20043 Sept 2004


ConferenceE&PDE 2004


  • automotive design education
  • strategy models
  • tacit knowledge


Dive into the research topics of 'Educating automotive design: A scientific approach without compromising tacit knowledge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this