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Old 04-02-2013, 11:20 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Camaro5 NYIAS Interview Series (3/7): Helen Emsley on Camaro Interior


Featured on Camaro5 HOMEPAGE


Interview 3/7...Feel free to ask any questions - and I may be able to elaborate.

I'd like to take an opportunity and point out, for folks that don't know who Helen is...she has a phenomenal understanding of her products. And she's so passionate about doing good interiors!! Her team inherited the initial Camaro interior - and the resulting changes were made.

For reference...the entire C7 Corvette interior was Helen and her team. So - IMHO, expect more good things about of GM's performance cars and trucks thanks to her direction.

Also, during this interview, Helen brought me over to the Z/28 to have a seat in the new Recaro seats...they are VERY comfortable. I have to make a comparison...I've sat in two different Recaro seats thus far...the Cadillac CTS-V, and the '13 GT500. These are much better than the Mustangs, and right on par with the Cadillac, in my opinion. They are FAR and away more comfortable than the GT500s...more supportive, too. And I'd say that they're slightly more supportive than the CTS-Vs, however they don't have as many power features.

Quote:
Interview with Helen Emsley, Director of Interior Design for Performance Cars
3/27/13
by J. Bella, Camaro5.com

Obviously, Corvette just came out – and it’s gorgeous inside. Did you go into that thinking “we have to start over”, were there limitations, or was it a free-for-all?

When we started the new Corvette design, there was no limitations – we could do what we wanted. We had to, of course, fit in the car – but no one said “it has to have this”, or that we had to keep to anything. It was just “you guys design something that you think it’s the most appropriate Corvette interior”.

Will that approach you took with Corvette trickle down to other cars? Like Camaro?

That process is across all our vehicles. Definitely, I know, all the ones I’m in charge of. I’m in charge of performance and full-sized trucks. So, you just do the correct interior that’s appropriate, and that the customer wants.

What is your opinion of the current Camaro’s interior? Would you call that appropriate for the car?

Well, when I came on to the performance cars, we had today’s interior – which everybody loved. You know, it’s what was in the show car, and it was right for when we launched the car. But more emphasis now has become on interiors. People expect more in the materials, more craftsmanship in the touch.

We got a lot of criticism for the Camaro’s all plastic, one-piece IP. So we straight-away went to work on the insert for that, so we could put soft-touch materials in there, like leather or suede. We also put the detailing around the vents so they weren’t floating in the plastic. These were the finishing, craftsmanship details we knew we needed to work on.

We needed to do something for the car, and that’s why we actually worked on the 2012 cars before today’s refresh, which is mostly exterior. We knew we had to do something to the car.

The Corvette has an exceptionally driver-focused interior. Is that a “performance” design, or a “Corvette” thing?

It was a Corvette thing. The Corvette and Camaro are very different, and we’re trying so hard to keep them separate. For one thing, the Corvette is a 2-seater, and the Camaro is a 4-seater. We really wanted to have the Corvette be driver-focused, and like a jet-fighter cockpit that wraps around you. The Camaro, we tried to make that a wide-open feeling. It’s a sports car, but we wanted a wide IP.

Where there any changes to the interior to accompany this 2014 refresh?

There were a few changes. We added the seats, and the colored HUD & Driver Information Center.

But what happened was we did the changes we needed to do earlier, we did them in 2012. Because, if we’d have waited, it would have been the wrong thing to do. So we actually decided to do many of the interior changes before this facelift.

We like to tell our forum members that “GM is listening”, and that eventually comments posted online will make it to designers and engineers. Are you noticing anything that people are still commenting on?


It’s very interesting, a lot of the feedback we get is that they love the interior as it is now. The Camaro drivers love their car, so we get good feedback. The feedback we got before was about the hard IP, so we did something about it as quickly as we could. Of course as we work on it in the future, we’ll listen to that input again.

So, yes, I would say any feedback we will listen to. And I think it’s very important because these people drive those cars. They drive them a lot more than I would drive a car…meaning that people that buy and drive these cars, they are the experts in terms of what they want, and we should listen to them.

The new steering wheel is a bit of a hot topic, and a lot of people think a great compromise would have been to have a new-style steering wheel with the Camaro name in the center. Was there a reason that wasn’t done when it was changed?

It was a steering wheel that we took as-is, and we couldn’t change it much. We needed to do the interior update really quickly; and if you make a change on the airbag cover, you have to test it again.

If we had had more time to get around the airbag testing (but we wanted to get the change out there for customers) that is something we probably would have done. But we’ve got a lot of good feedback on the steering wheel, too – in the way it feels.

And I think, my job being director for performance cars, I’ve got to really respect my vehicles. And like Corvette and Camaro, I’ve got to make sure that (within reason) we develop things specifically for performance cars…and we keep them within performance cars. Without using something from another car that is so obviously not appropriate for those vehicles.

What is your favorite feature of the interior of the Camaro, when you compare it to other cars out there?

I love the Camaro, I love to drive it, I do! I prefer it more now with that insert and the suede. I’m being honest; I really like the interior. When somebody asks me the same question about the Corvette I like to say a part, but you see, I love to drive the Camaro…If I had to narrow it down, I’d have to say the change we did to the IP. And when we first launched the car, there was no navigation because it was based on the show car that didn’t have it, and I do like the fact that we added that and we’re bringing the technology to the car.
Full interview list:

Interview 1: Mark Stielow (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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Old 04-02-2013, 02:55 PM   #2
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Not sure if Hellen can answer this question. Will you be able to fit a set of golf clubs in the trunk of the 2014 convertible? Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:15 PM   #3
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Not sure if Hellen can answer this question. Will you be able to fit a set of golf clubs in the trunk of the 2014 convertible? Thanks in advance.
If you can fit them into a '13, you can fit them into a '14.
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:19 PM   #4
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Did you ask about the bubbling dash inserts on the 2012's. is there a fix for it now?
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:26 PM   #5
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Will the new Z/28 have hill assist? if it does, will it have a feature to turn it off?
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:48 PM   #6
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I like her thinking. The new Corvette is crazy good on the inside.
For the 6th gen Camaro, I hope the design layout changes to be a bit more refined and looses the 'basic' feel. Not European by any means, but upscale musclecar.
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:39 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by 68vert View Post
For the 6th gen Camaro, I hope the design layout changes to be a bit more refined and looses the 'basic' feel. Not European by any means, but upscale musclecar.
Agreed. The interior is clearly the weakest point in the 5th gen package and needs improvement. But I wouldn't want wood inserts either.
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:41 AM   #8
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Agreed. The interior is clearly the weakest point in the 5th gen package and needs improvement. But I wouldn't want wood inserts either.
Agreed. I think the overall design of the 5th gen interior is pretty cool and a nice departure from most average interiors. But the execution still has some issues.

Too much hard plastic is a given. Door panels and dash. They look OK when brand new but scratch easily. I've scratched the heck out of my door panel with my watch & ring, reaching back for my seat belt.

The door panel design looks great but I don't care at all for the chrome loop interior door handles. The loop is just not a convenient design. This is a case where the standard/average design just makes more sense. An L-Shaped handle (or better yet, button like the Corvette) is just easier to use.

They finally got rid of the hideous "Lost in Space robot" looking radio/head unit and replaced it with a much better looking color screen. But there's still something about the center stack area that looks a bit like an afterthought. That area could use a little re-work in the 6th gen.

I still think the AC/Heat vent above the radio should be improved. A change was made here in 2012 but it still looks wrong IMO - it wasn't really an improvment - just a change. This vent area is one of the first things that everyone in the car sees. It should be somewhat of a jewel in the interior. And I really dislike the two "knobs" on either side of this vent used to change air direction. They just exude cheap. Other knobs in the interior have a much better effort in the "perceived quality" category. For example, the HUD and Headlight knobs are nicely designed with a little chrome trim that make them look a lot more expensive than they are. Some kind of treatment needs to be done to the heat/ac vent knobs.

And c'mon, it's 2013... it's beyond ridiculous that there is no OPTION for automatic climate control. I'm one of the "set it and forget it" people when it comes to climante control. In this car, I have to adjust it constantly.

Contrary to the changes made to the rear of the car for 2014, I like all of the changes made to the interior thus far - so Kudos to Helen ! A few more tweaks and this interior could really rock.
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:37 AM   #9
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Helen, what is IP? I want to shed the plastic shields on the door. PLEASE create an OEM option for spares part purchase. Would love a suede panel in there. Same with all the gray plastic.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:01 AM   #10
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Helen, what is IP? I want to shed the plastic shields on the door. PLEASE create an OEM option for spares part purchase. Would love a suede panel in there. Same with all the gray plastic.
Check out this thread
http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=286381
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:40 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by CrystalRedTintcoat View Post
Helen, what is IP? I want to shed the plastic shields on the door. PLEASE create an OEM option for spares part purchase. Would love a suede panel in there. Same with all the gray plastic.
IP = Instrument Panel

Changing door plastic to suede is a pretty easy DIY or for any upholstery shop.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HelloWorld View Post
Agreed. The interior is clearly the weakest point in the 5th gen package and needs improvement. But I wouldn't want wood inserts either.
Careful who you speak for...as evidenced by the interview (and she was sincere), there's a lot of good feedback coming in about the interior. Not to mention it won a global award in 2011.

I get the feeling that the performance interiors team understands what they're designing...look at the Corvette...no wood, and that interior is absolutely breath-taking!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrystalRedTintcoat View Post
Helen, what is IP? I want to shed the plastic shields on the door. PLEASE create an OEM option for spares part purchase. Would love a suede panel in there. Same with all the gray plastic.
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IP = Instrument Panel
It's the official term for what a lot of us refer to as the "dashboard".
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HelloWorld View Post
Agreed. The interior is clearly the weakest point in the 5th gen package and needs improvement. But I wouldn't want wood inserts either.
HEY what wrong with a little wood..
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Originally Posted by Mr. Wyndham View Post
Careful who you speak for...as evidenced by the interview (and she was sincere), there's a lot of good feedback coming in about the interior. Not to mention it won a global award in 2011.

I get the feeling that the performance interiors team understands what they're designing...look at the Corvette...no wood, and that interior is absolutely breath-taking!

It's the official term for what a lot of us refer to as the "dashboard".
here is my interior with Lupe leather center console...
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:23 PM   #14
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Thanks. That would probably feel a bit better. Perhaps I should get all the gray pieces hydrocoated too.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:26 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mr. Wyndham View Post
Careful who you speak for...as evidenced by the interview (and she was sincere), there's a lot of good feedback coming in about the interior. Not to mention it won a global award in 2011. .
The interior can be nice, receive some positive feedback and win awards AND still be the weakest part of the vehicle.... Well until now, where I think the rear is going to give it some competition in that area
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:40 PM   #16
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The interior can be nice, receive some positive feedback and win awards AND still be the weakest part of the vehicle.... Well until now, where I think the rear is going to give it some competition in that area
Fair point. That says a lot about the car.
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:55 AM   #17
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Fair point. That says a lot about the car.
It does indeed. I said it when the concept came out. I said it when the first 2010 hit the showroom floors and I still say it now... .this is one of the most fabulous looking cars Chevrolet has ever built.

It's got to be extremely challenging for designers to do anything to the exterior to improve it. And I think the 2014 rear end is a case in point.

The overall design of the interior is pretty nice. It's the perceived quality category that needs some more attention IMO.
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:41 PM   #18
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It does indeed. I said it when the concept came out. I said it when the first 2010 hit the showroom floors and I still say it now... .this is one of the most fabulous looking cars Chevrolet has ever built.

It's got to be extremely challenging for designers to do anything to the exterior to improve it. And I think the 2014 rear end is a case in point.

The overall design of the interior is pretty nice. It's the perceived quality category that needs some more attention IMO.
Remember, room for improvement is room for customization. Make it special, make it yours!
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:03 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Angrybird 12 View Post
Did you ask about the bubbling dash inserts on the 2012's. is there a fix for it now?

Service Information


2012 Chevrolet Camaro | Camaro VIN F Service Manual | Document ID: 3285069
#PIC5718B: Instrument Panel (IP) Center Soft Insert Above Radio Center Stack Appears Deformed or Wrinkled - (Feb 8, 2013)
Subject: Instrument Panel (IP) Center Soft Insert Above Radio Center Stack Appears Deformed or Wrinkled
Models: 2012 - 2013 Chevrolet Camaro

This PI was superseded to update parts availability. Please discard PIC5718A.

The following diagnosis might be helpful if the vehicle exhibits the symptom(s) described in this PI.
Condition/Concern
Some customers may comment that the dash pad area surrounding the radio center stack appears to be deformed or wrinkled. This area may be slightly to the left or right of the center stack, or even directly above it, as shown in the picture below. Some customers may comment that this trim piece was not like this when the car was new. Dealers may comment that the service replacement trim piece is similar in appearance when it had been removed from the packaging. They may also notice that after this trim piece has been replaced and exposed to direct sunlight for some time, the concern has reoccurred.


Recommendation/Instructions
This parts issue has been resolved and new stock is currently available at GM CCA for this concern. Order a new dash pad as needed to resolve this issue on customer vehicles.


GM bulletins are intended for use by professional technicians, NOT a "do-it-yourselfer". They are written to inform these technicians of conditions that may occur on some vehicles, or to provide information that could assist in the proper service of a vehicle. Properly trained technicians have the equipment, tools, safety instructions, and know-how to do a job properly and safely. If a condition is described, DO NOT assume that the bulletin applies to your vehicle, or that your vehicle will have that condition. See your GM dealer for information on whether your vehicle may benefit from the information.

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© 2013 General Motors. All rights reserved.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:06 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by MARINE1991 View Post
HEY what wrong with a little wood..


here is my interior with Lupe leather center console...
I would be concerned if your airbag ever deployed,what would happen to that wood insert piece? You don't want that thing to come off flying in your face,or cut your skin all up.
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