Nov 13th, 2007 by RJ Menezes
Recently I had the pleasure of attending GM’s first unvailing of their 2-mode Hybrid full-size SUV’s. While I was there I had the chance to interview Bryan Nesbitt. Bryan comes of as a person who knows design. He better, cause he is Vice President of Design for General Motors in North America. He kindly gave me a few minutes of his time for me to ask him some questions.
– Bryan, what do you feel that GM design was lacking?
We were lacking style, more specifically aesthetics. The new Malibu is a good example of that. The old Malibu was designed as an appliance. It was made to be the most average sedan, to appeal to anybody. There was no style. You want people to think “Wow I really like the way that looks”. It’s a good feeling and we believe it doesn’t take a $45,000 luxury car to get it. It can be had in a $20,000 car. Now as far as interiors, our senses can instantly tell when it’s good or when it’s junk. Everyone has sat in a car and gone, “it’s really nice in here…”. Right away the texture’s, scent’s, color’s jump out at you. We’re trying to design those interiors.
-How much of the designers actual vision makes it to the production model?
Quite a lot actually. Nowadays we work closely with all departments. We analyze and actually see what works and what doesn’t. With the new Malibu we told the car’s designer, Tim Cosib, to try to design a $35-40,000 car knowing we were gonna sell it for $20,000. His original vision made it to the production model almost intact.
– When recently on a trip in Europe, I got the chance to drive a few of GM’s European offerings. How come their quality and fit and finish were far superior? Why does the American market get the inferior product, even though GM is an American company?
Whoa, yeah nobody has ever put it that bluntly, but yes you are right. One of the first steps in the globalization of GM’s design division was to bring our forces together. Your not the first person to notice that. In fact when a lot of the new designers got hired and started working they realised the same thing. GM’s most inferior products, design-wise, were in it’s home market. This was unacceptable to me and a lot of the other team members. The Malibu is again a good example. If you compare it to the previous model it looks two or three genarations apart, not a few years. Don’t worry though, you’ll see some real quality stuff coming from us in the next couple of months, I guarantee it.
-Final question, of all of GM’s product offerings (any brand), what would you buy?
Hmmm… Well, let me think. Probably a Saab. They seem more in tune with my style. Yeah, a Saab 9-3 Convertible. That seems right up my alley!