Gorden Wagener, the head of Mercedes’ design, believes that the fundamental design of the automobile will remain largely intact regardless of the technological progress we have been making.
After coming off the heels of his lauded F015, which promotes autonomous operation, his confidence is justified. A prime example of this is on the concept vehicle itself, which doesn’t remove the steering wheel from the cabin. According to Wagener, clients want to drive the car when they feel like it. From our perspective this ideology has been engrained in us and stems from a sense of empowerment that driving gives. It maybe sometime before we let our digital overlords control something that we as a culture have embodied as a sense of independence.
Another interesting aspect that may stand the test of time is the overall proportion of the vehicle. Alternative fuels (we’ll place electric in this category), new manufacturing processes, and new materials have the potential to radicalize design. However it hasn’t. A great example of this is the Tesla Model S, which is packaged in a very conservative package to ensure that clients recognize that it is an automobile as opposed to a technology showcase. This precedent affirms that styling will be evolutionary, relying heavily upon the heritage of each brand.