Korean Car Designers Set To Conquer Auto Industry

The auto industry has always been known to be a dynamic industry. Year in and year out, car makers look for ways to improve their production vehicles. They focus not only on the performance of their car but also in the looks of these automobiles.

That is why car designers have always played a key role in the auto industry. In connection with this, car makers are always on the lookout for promising students. Lately, the industry has found a new spot where talented car design students thrive: South Korea.

While the country has only a short time of car making history compared to Japanese and Western countries, students from the country are touted to be one of the best in the world. Koreans have been employed by car manufacturers like Nissan and Mercedes-Benz. Some attributes that these South Korean designers have that impressed chief designers from the aforementioned car makers are their technical skills, work ethic, and creativity.

Shiro Nakamura, the chief Creative Officer and Head of Design for Nissan, said that: “When I first saw the sketches that Korean students were drawing, I was utterly shocked. Their design is very emotional and powerful. I hate to say it, but they are miles ahead of Japanese students, both in terms of design sense and technique. There’s no comparison”. He further said that Nissan will probably hire more Korean designers this year than Japanese ones.

The most known school where South Korean designers come from is the Hongik University which is located in the country’s capital. The university is the country’s top fine arts school. The Seoul-based school only offered the transportation design course in 1990, last year the number of students accommodated is doubled to 120.

Aside from homegrown talents, South Korea also produced some of the best young designers in the world. On of them is Jae Chung. He did not study in South Korea but out in the West. He graduated from the Art Center in California. Today he is now working for Dodge and the interesting fact is that he penned the Dodge Demon sports coupe currently on display at the 77th Geneva International Auto Show.

Ralph Gilles, the Vice President of Design for Chrysler, has this to say about Chung: “He was born in Korea and went to school in Pasadena. And it’s just like anything -you get exposed to the school, you get exposed to Chrysler and Dodge and out comes this new aesthetic.”

Another Korean, and also an alumnus of the Art Center, Han Seung Lee landed a job at Honda. Lee, in turn, penned the Sports 4 Concept shown to the public at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2005. This shows that Koreans have what it takes to take on the world of car designing as sure as a Mercedes H&K air filters are efficient when it comes to doing their job.

Another chief designer which expressed admiration toward Korean design students is Koichi Hayashi, Deputy General Manager of Design for Mazda. He said that: “There’s a real passion among Korean designers to advance and succeed that exceeds what you see in Japanese students.” Currently, he has four Korean designers working for him at their Hiroshima headquarters.

The emergence of South Korea as a source of talented car designers is a good news for Japanese car makers. Due to the similarities in language structure and working culture of Japan and South Korea, Korean designers have an edge over their Western counterparts when applying for a job in any Japanese car company. Furthermore, Koreans are more willing than Westerners to work for relatively low starting salaries offered by Japanese car companies.

According to Nakamura, “all the pieces are in place, right now, young Korean designers are most sought after by Japanese carmakers but they can make it in the West anytime.” But Korean students should not rest on their laurels since in the near future – other countries in the world will also be producing design students at par with them. Countries like China, Russia, and India have all invested in training their car design students to be competitive in the auto industry.

Volvo YCC Concept Car Receives 2006 Swedish Design Award

The Volvo YCC Concept Car has been one of those concept cars ever created that has certainly grabbed the attention not only of automobile enthusiasts and fans but also of organizations that try to look at exemplary and exceptional designs. That is most certainly why the Volvo YCC Concept Car received the 2006 Swedish Design Award.

The 2006 Swedish Design Award’s jury wanted to actually honor and give recognition to practical design as well as to excellent problem-solving creations that use such practical design as a method. All nominated designs would be actually put on display this coming autumn in the House of Sweden which is the new Swedish embassy complex located in Washington, D.C.

So what is the Volvo YCC Concept Car? Well, actually, YCC stands for Your Concept Car. It is Volvo Car Corporation’s attention-grabbing concept car. One very unique thing about this car is that it has been designed, planned, and created by a team comprised of women. There were no men in the team. This Volvo YCC has certainly taken the attention of the whole world ever since its unveiling during the Geneva car show held last March 2004.

The Volvo YCC has also been one of the most awarded concept cars around. Aside from the 2006 Swedish Design Award given by the Swedish Advertisign Association and SVID, this vehicle has also received other awards like the Golden Spark Plug given by the Swedish Automobile Association last April 2003, the Best Concept Car given by design master Ross Lovegrove last March 2004, the best Design in Show given by the New York Daily News last April 2004, the Women of the Year award given by the Swedish magazine Damernas Varld last December 2004, the Woman of the Year award given by the motoring magazine Automotive News Europe last May 2005, the Andre Award given by the Swedish Patent and Registration Office last April 2005, the Golden Globe award given by the World Media Festival for the film made about the YCC last June 2005, and the Torsten and Wania Soderberg design award last December 2005.

What is an Exotic Car?

Have you ever pulled up to a stop light, minding your own business, and the most incredible car pulls up quickly stopping next to you? Then, after staring at the car and then being caught by the driver, you can’t help but wonder what is that? You’ve never seen anything like it an yet you think, is that the car I just read about in my favorite car magazine?

So, do you find yourself wondering, exactly what is an exotic car? To start with, as with any explanation, it helps to begin with the official definition of “Exotic”.

ex·ot·ic /ɪgˈzɒtɪk/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[ig-zot-ik]


1. of foreign origin or character; not native; introduced from abroad, but not fully naturalized or acclimatized: exotic foods; exotic plants.

2. strikingly unusual or strange in effect or appearance: an exotic hairstyle.

3. of a uniquely new or experimental nature: exotic weapons.

4. of, pertaining to, or involving stripteasing: the exotic clubs where strippers are featured.

5. something that is exotic: The flower show included several tropical exotics with showy blooms.

6. an exotic dancer; stripper.

In this case, we’ll go with number 2, simply because the others don’t fit when referencing an automobile. We’ll avoid the initial, number 1 definition as not all exotic cars are foreign in the US and the last term has nothing to do with cars, except that most exotic cars are considered sexy. That’s all that will be mentioned on THAT subject.

There are a variety of “laymen” definitions for what an exotic car may be described. Some think that it’s a car that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not necessarily true. A humbly priced Lotus Elise is considered exotic, yet is priced around $50K. Others view an exotic car as one that has doors that spring forward or are gulled like wings. There are a number of exotics that have “normal” opening doors, so that’s not necessarily an accurate approach. For the most uninitiated, they may surmise that an exotic is only of Italian or German decent and manufacture. Again, not necessarily true. There have been numerous British exotics, America has it’s share of specialty exotic manufactures and the Netherlands has yet it’s own form of exotic car builder.

Probably the best most common thought about what an exotic car is, can be boiled down to one simple statement. Do you see one every day? Or, simply put, would you see one on your bumper to bumper traffic laden commute? If the answer is no, then it’s probably close to being exotic. If you live near a Ferrari or Lamborghini dealer, hob knob in Beverly Hills or have a home near Miami, then it may not be an fair assessment. However, for the 99% of us that live in average city locations, typically seeing an exotic every day is not normal. There are some that have only seen such cars at car shows and or on the rare occasion on a major freeway connecting two cities. Since there are numerous web sites with “Sighting” posting sections, it’s probably a pretty accurate definition on the “rarity” of an exotic, making this a pretty accurate layman’s definition of “exotic car”.

With that in mind, an exotic car can also be considered a daily driver, but rarely seen. Many exotic car owners like to drive their cars as much as possible, but keep it to a minimum due to mileage restrictions they put on themselves so as to keep the resale value high. In most major cities, there are usually a higher number of exotic car owners than one may perceive. Most exotic cars spend time in garages, show rooms and/or collections. However, there are still a larger number of owners that prefer to take their car out on special occasions and just drive it.

There are many additional areas that can make up an exotic car definition besides just rarity. Items such as extremely different shape and size are common elements of an exotic car. Special composites that make up the frame or body are also areas that set an exotic car apart from their daily commuter brethren. Powerful engines usually installed in the rear are one of the more commonly thought about elements. Shifting mechanisms, starter buttons and flat bottom steering wheels are a few other less unusual, but common amongst exotics.

Shape. Many exotics have an extremely uncommon shape. They typically are very “Striking” or notice able both sitting at a light, gas pump or being driven down the road. Most exotics have taken on shapes that rival many show cars or concept cars, but that have been put into production as a fully operational drive able car. Shapes like wedges and hour glass are common visions.

Size. A number of exotics are actually small by comparison to the standard sedan or coupe. Almost all exotics are a 2 seater, with the occasional version that may have a “token” back seat. Some of the larger exotics, such as the Bentley are getting large enough in size to actually accommodate rear passengers. However, many of the truly exotics are made for two and commonly are less than 3 feet tall. Egress can be challenging at times, which makes for another case for definition of an exotic and it’s non-commonality. The majority of exotics are sports related with small sizes and big powerful engines.

Composites. Many if not all exotics are made up of space age or light weight materials slowly finding their way into the larger auto makers. Most of today’s aluminum’s and carbon fibers were first made popular on one exotic brand or another. Light material or new composites that make up the engine compartment are very common amongst exotics.

Engines and weight. A majority of exotics are made up of small size in stature and length, usually outfitted with large powerful engines. The power to weight ratio make it a lethal if not down right illegal combination, thus making it even more exotic.

All in all, exotics are not your run of the mill daily driver. Rather, they are something striking and unusual, yet beautiful and very very eye catching. Most if not all are rarely seen and thus make it the primary definition for the majority of our population. Regardless of your gender, it’s almost impossible to not stare at the unusual, strikingly different exotic car sitting next to you at that red light. Go ahead and stare. It may be a while before you see another exotic car!