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Volvo Trucks – How (NOT) to design a completely new truck range

I have to admit that I am in shock after seeing this video, and I think a lot of other truck companies are very happy to see this. Volvo Trucks have removed their iconic  and holy diagonal from their grilles, and placed them as a mere decoration on an artificial peace of plastic under the window. In essence THEY HAVE REMOVED THEIR LONG CULTIVATED DESIGN IDENTITY!!!

In this video Asok George, Chief Designer at Volvo Trucks, is explaining how the new series of trucks was developed and how long it all took because of the longer life cycles, stating amongst other that they worked on this before the iPhone had come out….., which was in June 2007.. So they took at least 7 years to develop this… And there clearly was no time after the introduction of the iPhone to adjust a wrong design direction?Then of course it should come as no surprise that you end up with this..!! The first impression I had when I saw the whole fleet appear on screen was that it was taped in India, China, or in some other third world country in that region, since the trucks all seemed to be equipped with every piece of accessory you can imagine, lots of it in bling bling chrome, and none of it what a modern transportation designer would want to put on there in his worst of nightmares.

I am sure there are people who love this, mostly people we have been trying to get away of making any design decisions at all, the kind of people who love going to the accessory shops and buy anything that shines, and puts that on their vehicles to show how much bling bling they have. To see Volvo go boldly in to that direction makes me, as a former Volvo designer, indoctrinated with their design identity and the preservation of it, cringe in utter disbelief. But then, I also worked for Mercedes-Benz and DAF Trucks, and they must be ecstatic.

Compare this to the advanced concept Mercedes Benz recently introduced at the Hannover Show, and you will witness a clear contrast in design direction, where I personally think the Mercedes way might be one with most longevity, but I am sure there are plenty of people in third world countries with third world tastes and new money who will LOVE this.



One response to “Volvo Trucks – How (NOT) to design a completely new truck range”

  1. Emonk says:

    I’m in two minds about this; part of me thinks that we shouldn’t, as designers, be afraid to play with a brand motif. Certainly if you look at something like Citroen DS they’ve reinvented/tweaked a graphic and will continue to do so.
    However I agree that the end result here looks cheap and temporary. I cannot see this new position of the diagonal lasting for many refreshes..

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