PARIS -- Retired Renault design chief Patrick le Quement, who turned 70 this year, has been back in the limelight of late. The legendary French stylist received a lifetime achievement award this summer at the EyesOn Design charity car show in Detroit.
His impact on the industry is still being felt. You could argue the reason Renault was able to shock the auto world in 1999 by acquiring control of Nissan was the emergence of the French company's popular design language in the 1990s. And you'd have to credit le Quement for that.
The man and his ideas have been missed. But not to fear: Le Quement offered a few cogent remarks on the current state of auto design in a recent interview.
- On current styling trends: "Our cars are too fat, too heavy and too big for our unchanged parking spaces. Moreover, they are too wasteful with their oversized footprint."
- More on current styling trends: "The auto industry is putting Sunday lunch leftovers on the market [as they] look at the future in the rearview mirror while constantly looking at what the neighbors are having for dinner, thinking, 'I want one of these.'"
- On a lack of new ideas: There are "very, very few concepts -- oversized minicars with brightly colored roofs and mirrors, and SUVs galore."
- On the similarity of current cars: "As my former boss Bob Lutz used to say, it's better to rob a bank than a grocery store. ... There are thousands of automobile designers trained in the art of forgery, armies of enthusiastic forgers who are a far cry from the small styling offices of Mercedes or Amilcar, of GM or Citroen of the early years."
- On cars of the future: "I hope for cars that abandon silly aggressiveness and choose serenity as a positive value. We cannot continue the wild development that has characterized the first century of the automobile reign."