Future Citroën Designers May Be Furniture Specialists

Autonomous vehicles could see the creation of two different breeds of car designers, even opening the automotive door to furniture creatives.

This is the opinion of Citroën’s head of design Pierre Leclercq who foresees a divergence in design skills to suit the differing needs of driverless vehicles and privately owned ‘sexy’ products. Speaking to TU-Automotive at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, Leclercq said that having specialized designers “could make a lot of sense”.

He added: “This is a personal view but, for sure, there will be a time with autonomous cars where there will never have a steering wheel but, at the same time, you will have cars that will bring back the passion into the industry. That’s because people love cars as well. It’s just that you don’t need them to do the everything because there are drives to do that are really not fun. This means some car designs will be more driven by exterior designs to appeal to people as very sexy objects.”

Alternatively, the autonomous vehicle calls for an entirely different approach which would come more from the homeware design school, said Leclercq. “Actually, autonomous driving is an evolving technology that will be interesting to see what happens with the steering wheel. This will create a completely different kind of animal with different services from what we know today. There will be cars that are simple moving cells where furniture designers could become the new type of people we will be hiring.”

Yet, passion will always have a place with automobiles, an urge that we see in abundance with consumer investment habits today. Leclercq explained: “Again this is a personal vision but I love cars and while they have to do many different functions, there are still some really sexy cars left to make. You see it already today with some cars becoming collectable. As soon as you can you get a car that is collectable and now you can fit it with new technology while still being emotionally attached to the past.”

Electric vehicles are the other major influence on car design for the immediate future yet, with more space, comes extra challenges for the car designer. Leclercq said: “The big difference for a designer is if you are working on a brand new platform made for the electric car or if you are converting an existing design to the new energy. It is true that electric vehicles give you more space to play with but I wouldn’t say more freedom because it’s something we are not used to and will need a different approach. For example you don’t need a transmission tunnel and the cabin space can go a long way forward because there is not engine and front overhang can be reduced.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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