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Reporter’s Notebook: Working for the Man

Ward’s writers pass along the buzz at this week’s Ward’s Auto Interiors Conference in Dearborn, MI.

Special Coverage

Auto Interiors Conference

Designers New G-Men?

Leave it to Dave Lyon, executive director-Interior Design for General Motors, to bring new perspective to what it means to be a car designer in today’s financially challenged auto industry.

“Being a car designer is one of those jobs you grow up dreaming about, like a policeman, a fireman, an astronaut,” he says in delivering a keynote speech at the Ward’s Auto Interiors Conference.

“Ironically, those are all government jobs today.”

No Patience

Regaled by suppliers Continental Automotive and Hughes Telematics with visions of future electronics systems and high-tech human-machine interfaces for next-generation automobiles, Marios Zenios nearly is at a loss for words.

So when it comes time to following up the two supplier presentations on navigation system and telematics trends with a talk of his own, Chrysler’s vice president-connectivity threatens to keep it short and sweet.

Turning toward Continental’s Brian Droessler and Hughes’ Paul Kirsch, he says, “The only thing left to say is, when can I have all this stuff?”

Ignore the Customer, Please

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to listen to the customer.

During his keynote presentation here, General Motors Interior Design Director Dave Lyon flashes up a picture of the ‘03 Chevrolet Malibu.

Conservatively styled, the ‘03 Malibu was a solid entry but had none of the pizzazz of the current model that bowed in ‘08 and garnered rave reviews.

“By all accounts, this should have been a winner,” he says, noting the ‘03 Malibu was priced right, boasted good driving dynamics and had all the required features. “And customers told us styling didn’t matter. And we took their word on it.”

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