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Camaro5 NYIAS Interview Series (7/7): Ed Welburn on 2014 Camaro Refresh
Interview 7/7...Feel free to ask any questions - and I may be able to elaborate.
It's humbling in a way to talk to Ed Welburn...probably because they've got him tucked away except for these big shows. He's a very down to earth guy to speak with, and obviously has a passion for his work, especially Camaro and Corvette.
Ed Welburn – Vice President of Global Design
by J. Bella, Camaro5.com
Full interview list:
Interview 1: Mark Stielow
What was the thought process that went into the Camaro refresh?
The thing is, you need to keep the car fresh. And as much as we all love Camaro, you can kind of tell that it’s been in the market for a few years now. The challenge is to make it fresher, and not lose what is so right about Camaros. I mean the car is right. So to do a front end that is thinner, is meaner, is a bit more aggressive, I think is the right thing to do. We think about the aero of the car in everything we do. And the tail lamps just make the car look wider, you know? Between the lamp design and fascia design, it all has a bit more contemporary look about it.
Were the tail lights supposed to intentionally refer to the 60’s cars?
Oh, yeah. We know those cars very well and we want to get inspiration from them, but we want to execute it in a very contemporary way. Because, some people don’t know those cars from the 60s, and all they know is what’s here today. So it needs to stand on its own without being a dated statement. And I think the team has a lot of fun with taking one of those cues from the earlier car and doing a contemporary execution.
You mentioned earlier what’s “right” with Camaro. If you could describe the character of the car, as maybe even a person, what words would you use?
Wow…you know there’s something great about its personality. There’s something very honest, and very straightforward. It’s got a flair without being this overdone thing. There’s something very clean, contemporary, honest, more than expected about it. And it’s a very optimistic design. You know, it doesn’t look angry, it doesn’t look sad, it doesn’t look too playful - it’s very optimistic.
Is this vision something that you want to keep, moving forward with the evolution of the car? Especially now with talk of a 6th-generation car?
Well, you know, with everything we do – if you’ve got a great brand…and Camaro is a great brand…you need to build on it. Don’t just totally change directions, go in a different route, and throw that away. You need to build on it. At the same time, the last thing you want to do is to get into such a rut that you’re so closely staying the same that you can’t tell one generation from the next. Next thing you know it’s going to be very difficult to make any significant change.
In the development of future products, and there’s not much I can say about them, it’s got to be clear that it’s a Camaro. The marketplace is too complex, there’s too many different brands for you do go in a totally different direction.
Was there any attention given to what enthusiasts were saying about the ’10-’13 cars when you put effort into refresh it?
We have, I believe, what is very close communication with our customers. The team does a good job of listening, not just the exterior design, but the interior, as well.
How are you working to keep Corvette its own brand versus Camaro without competing or ignoring each other?
They’re very different vehicles, that there needs to be a very healthy relationship between Corvette and every other vehicle within Chevrolet. There’s no confusion between a Corvette, and a Cruze, and a Camaro. But I think it’s important to have some linkage between them – Corvette shouldn’t be off on an island somewhere. Some of the shapes, and form should appear in other vehicles, I think there’s great value in that. It won’t take away from Corvette to do that.
When your teams decided on the design to use for the refresh, was it a clear black/white decision, or was there a lot of debate?
With every vehicle we design, we like to look at a broad spectrum of proposals and then we narrow our way down to a single thing. So we started quite broad, realizing that we’re not going to redesign the whole body shape; we’re not going to invest in new fenders and all of that. That’s a limited area to work within, but I really wanted the team to explore a lot of different directions.
Is there anything specific that you’d like online viewers to focus on, or understand. Maybe something you’re very proud of?
Yeah – I think if you look at the front, it’s obviously a Camaro. I mean, there’s no mistaking that, but it’s leaner, it is fresher. The lamps have got more character in them. The rear of the car looks a bit wider, muscular and more contemporary in its executon.
Of course, we have Z/28 – which is another big deal. That was a bit of a surprise for a few people today, and it’s just an amazing car.
(Chief Engineer of Z/28)
Interview 2: John Fitzpatrick
(Marketing Manager for Chevrolet Performance Cars)
Interview 3: Helen Emsley
(Director of Interior Design for Performance Cars)
Interview 4: Mary Barra
(GM Senior Vice President, Global Product Development)
Interview 5: Russ Clark
(Director of Marketing, Performance Cars)
Interview 6: Tom Peters
(Director, Exterior Design)
Interview 7: Ed Welburn
(Vice President of Global Design)
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