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MiscellaneousThe Man Who Might Design the Next Jeep?
Posted by mike on 1999/8/27 0:00:00 (972) reads

Yahoo News has a very interesting article about Freeman Thomas, the man behind the new volkswagen beetle as well as the new Audi TT coupe, who is now DaimlerChrylser's vice president of U.S. advance design strategy. Here's an excerpt:

It was at VW's Audi design studio in California in the early 1990s that he and J Mays, now design chief at Ford Motor Co., developed Concept One -- the forerunner of the New Beetle -- behind the backs of VW division designers.

Concept One was a hit at the Detroit auto show in 1994. During a subsequent six-month stint in Germany, Mays spotted a sketch of a roadster version of the TT on Thomas's desk, and again a car -- this time a coupe -- was developed quietly on the side to rave reviews at the 1995 Frankfurt auto show.

That kind of risk-taking excites Thomas and he promises DaimlerChrysler's U.S. design staff of 300, who develop theChrysler, Plymouth, Jeep and Dodge brands of the German-U.S. automaker, that he will maintain a tradition of innovation. The Michigan and California teams created the minivan in 1983, the Plymouth Prowler roadster and the popular Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle.

``When I look at that Prowler, I say what other company would take that risk?,'' he said. ``We're going to continue to pioneer new vehicle segments. We're not going to take baby steps.''

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