What sort of car should we expect to see at the end of this devastating financial crisis, that has swept aside the social and productive relations we have always known and which, for better or worse, have always managed this fragile earthenware vase, as George Bernard Shaw described the world? A vase so fragile that it is readily smashed to pieces whenever political amateurs are allowed to get their clumsy hands on it. And that, in the history of the world, has happened often enough.

“Fortunately some “professional” has always been there to patiently set it all to rights again”.

But this time the vase is so smashed up and the stage so bereft of miracle workers capable of putting the pieces back together that no one can decide with certainty when and how the world will be able to resume its normal path.

That new, different motor car we’ve all been waiting for is unfortunately nowhere to be seen, nor can we attribute any semblance of formal or technical certainty to its future appearance. This in spite of the fact that the ideas of those who manage the image and reproduction of the car are clear cut and within the powers of each of us, illuminated by unwavering faith in profound renewal and an equally rapid recovery.

“This moment”, they say, “is to be considered a great opportunity”. That is the subject of the investigation carried out by Robert Cumberford among world design leaders. Read it. Then if any realistic hypothesis starts to take root in your head, drop us a line and we will publish your thoughts in the next edition of A&D.

There is a need to break free of obsolete paradigms, build more integration between designers and engineers, draw alternative ideas from non-automotive sectors and tackle issues that have been neglected for far too long. These are just some of the opinions expressed by international designers during these harsh economic times gathered by Robert Cumberford for Auto & Design at the recent Detroit motor show. From the Americans Ed Welburn and Freeman Thomas to representatives of the German giants Gorden Wagener, Chris Bangle, Adrian van Hooydonk, Gert Hildebrand, Walter de’ Silva, Wolfgang Egger and Luc Donckerwolke and from the Italian Lorenzo Ramaciotti and Giorgetto Giugiaro to the French Jean-Pierre Ploué and Patrick Le Quément, everyone seems to agree: “the strength of ideas will overcome this crisis”, as Giugiaro put it.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 175