A car designer works with a team of creative and engineering professionals to develop the look and feel of new cars. Design teams may be quite large, and they can include a variety of people involved in the process of designing new cars, ranging from people concerned with improving safety to people focusing on the aesthetics of the dashboard display. Having a degree in automotive engineering, art, or industrial design can be helpful for people interested in pursuing this kind of work, and may be required by many car companies.
Car designers start with the concept stage, discussing an entirely new design or a redesign. They talk about what they want to accomplish with the car and also integrate feedback from customers, dealers, and designers on previous models. This is used to generate ideas about how they want a new car to appear, allowing the designers to start creating sketches and mockups. As the process proceeds, these get more precise and detailed, and the car designer starts focusing on the small elements and details, ranging from the shape of the lenses used to cover the indicator lamps to the stitching on the seats.
The car designer is concerned with the aesthetics of the car, how it fits into a manufacturer's lineup, and what kind of message is being projected with the vehicle. They also have to think about issues like aerodynamics and safety, as some aesthetically intriguing features might compromise the car's ability to run. Working with engineers, they talk about design proposals and develop approaches to accomplishing them. Car designers think about color schemes, materials, and other fine details, designing the car down to the last details.
Car designers need to be familiar with safety regulations, as well as industry standards for safety and basic features on vehicles. Part of their work can involve coming up with innovative features and working with engineers on making these features available. Car design is usually heavily influenced by larger design and cultural trends, so people also need to be aware of how the general public is thinking. Research to look at modern art and architecture for influences is needed and market surveys can be used by a car designer to learn more about how people respond to proposed designs.
Designing cars can take months or years in some cases and requires an attention to detail, along with an ability to see the big picture. A car designer also needs to be able to work with people coming from diverse backgrounds with very different priorities, from executives who want to keep production costs low to engineers concerned about environmental sustainability.