Friday, May 10, 2013

Ford Atlas - AutomotiveSTYLE

My readers know I love a stylish car but only those who know me really well would know that I absolutly LOVE trucks. I think it must be the southern girl in me that likes the idea of stepping out of something some big and sleek in a fabulous pair of heels. It's the surprise factor! I mean, who would expect a classically dressed woman to step out of something like this? Introducing the Ford Atlas Concept!

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to recently interview Gordon Platto who's the Ford
Atlas Concept lead chief designer and here's what he had to say...

SM: What was the inspiration for the grill?  It looks very detailed and it seems a lot of attention was focused here.  It's definitely a head turner.
GP: Inspiration for the Ford Atlas Concept comes from a deep understanding of truck customer needs that's advanced through decades of design and engineering learning with customers at the job site.
The Ford Atlas has signature design features that are part of Built Ford Tough DNA, including the nostril grill.

SM: Most trucks aren't necessarily known for speed, instead it's more about durability.  What made you focus on a "bullet train" for one of the early sketches?
GP: The bullet train inspiration comes from the customer’s interest in fuel economy, which led to our interest in aerodynamics.  The "bullet train" sketch was one extreme bookend of design studies we considered because we new our customers would demand a more efficient vehicle in the future.   We quickly figured out that this extreme slippery shape, while looking aerodynamic and efficient, wouldn't meet our customers expectations of the tough truck DNA that Ford Trucks are associated with.  First and foremost, Ford trucks must look tough and capable.

SM: I loved the idea of the moonroof from the initial sketch. Do you think dropping this concept for a roof carrying system was worth it? The truck bed could possibly serve the same purpose.
GP: We know  our  customer very well and that guided us in the design phase. We believe that while the moon roof option looked interesting, the cradle would be more functional and more appropriate for our customers  needs . The roof cradle  has a telescoping element that  rises  out of the tailgate, and allows you to haul long boards, and canoes that wouldn’t necessarily fit in the bed alone.   In addition, the glass roof seemed to make the truck look less capable which fit the imagery of the bullet train but didn't feel like a tough truck design element. 

SM: Could you further explain the importance balancing function and style played in the design concept?
GP: We listen very carefully to customer wants and needs. The Ford Atlas Concept was built to function as a workhorse and transportation after the day is done to fit the consumers lifestyle. The new aesthetic features are functional, serving life style and work interests.   We struck the right aesthetic balance between a capable work only vehicle and a life style vehicle.  Trucks are not just for work anymore, our customers demand a dual purpose vehicle with uncompromised function and capability for the job site, but also need to feel confident and comfortable using this vehicle outside of work with their family and friends.

SM: Which design element do you feel is the most beneficial to the buyer while maintaining the uniqueness of the vehicle? Why?
GP: The key design element is the overall appearance.  The feeling and emotion this truck exudes is something the customers truly value.  A beautiful truck is not an oxymoron. We were able to blend beautiful lines and surfaces while maintaining a "tough as nails" look.  This combination of beauty and toughness allows our customers to emotionally connect with the Atlas. We also have many neat features  in the Atlas concept  including the Trailer Backup Assist that could help even novices park a trailer like a pro  and the 360-degree birds eye camera. 

SM: Which deleted design element would you go back and include if given the opportunity? Why?
GP: That's a tough question because this concept vehicle is so well appointed with customer features.  Honestly, we had to prioritize tons of great concepts and struggled with letting good ideas go.  In the end, we decided to focus on a few really good ideas that fit our customer needs and executed them properly.  We didn't want to dilute the showcasing of our really neat features by throwing in everything!

Click HERE to check out a full view of all the sketches from early iteration to concept.


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