Mercedes styling no longer ‘German’ – ex-designer

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A former designer says Mercedes-Benz styling is no longer German...

A former vice-president of design at Ford has accused most German brands of losing their “cultural” design language, taking particular aim at Mercedes-Benz.

J Mays, who was group vice-president of global design and chief creative officer at Ford from the late 1990s until retiring in 2013, told Automotive News that the styling used by most German automotive brands was no longer mirroring the mind-set of that country.

“I’m a big stickler for cultural relevance. If you’re going to go to work in Italy, France or Germany, you really want to make sure the brand represents the mind-set of the culture it comes from,” the 62-year-old American told the publication.

“I think the British do a pretty good job — they seem to produce cars that look British. I don’t think the Germans, with the exception of Porsche, are really doing that at the moment,” Mays added.

“I think BMW and Audi are close, but it could be improved. I could not tell you what Mercedes is doing, but it’s not German,” he quipped.

Asked by Automotive News what would make a Mercedes-Benz appear more German, Mays suggested “a quieter design language” and “continuity from one model to the next, not only throughout the line-up, but from generation to generation”.

He did, however, have some praise for Hyundai.

“Roll back the clock before [chief design officer] Peter Schreyer arrived at Hyundai and you would have said the South Koreans will never be able to design a car, but today they’re designing some of the best cars in the world,” he said.

Mays began his career as a designer at Audi, spending a brief spell at BMW before heading back to the Ingolstadt brand and later on to Volkswagen. He then moved to Ford, where he spent some 16 years.

“That’s a very long time for anybody. I’d gotten through about five CEOs, and at some point you just think, ‘okay, I’m not sure I’ve got a lot more to add here’.

“I went through the same thing at Audi when I left in 1994. I woke up one morning and thought, ‘I know what the next two to three generations of Audis are going to look like, and I’m not sure this is going to be that interesting’,” he said.

  • Bling

    Move aside old man, let the new generation design vehicles we generation people want to buy.

  • JAMES BOND

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  • JAMES BOND

    J MAYS DESIGNED UGLY FORD CARS

  • Bulldog

    The current crop of Mercedes cars are rather ugly, I think.

    • disqus_hiF7NvKYKq

      Agree. May is right. Merc has lost that enviable classicism it once had. There used to be a time when people said- “Wow look. There goes a Mercedes.” They have lost that. That certain Merc quality feel. And they have very few future classics in the making with exception of the SLS and GTC perhaps.

      • fd21

        Wrong. People still very much oo and ah at cars like the new E Class coupe and S Coupe.

        • Carl Smith

          He will change his mind once he sees the gtr or project one.

    • fd21

      That’s your wrong opinion since the majority are loving it. Their sales are better than ever and people oo and ah when they see cars like the new E Class coupe or the S Coupe. Even BMW fans who once never liked Mercedes for their design now love what they are doing.

  • Le Phacochère

    …with the global sales lead among luxury car manufacturers, Mercedes’ current design philosophy is yielding results…so what exactly is he talking about when those who can are clearly voting with their wallets?

  • Sly TM

    He says this when Merc is finally designing cars one just wants to hug?! Merc designers, please don’t get detracted and make the next CLS hotter than my current so I stay in…

  • Pops

    Mercs are rubbish to drive but their styling is way ahead of the other Krauts. The CLA is incredible and the C Coupe is so ugly that it’s drop dead beautiful..

    • Takunda Mapako

      Lol

  • Senele Mncwabe

    Just sour grapes from someone who designed ugly cars. If Mercedes were so ugly then why now are they biggest luxury brand producer in the world and have over taken BMW? So many BMW fans are now like wow Mercedes is gorgeous, still classy but no longer your old man’s car. Audi and BMW in particular have lost market share because their design language no longer changes in the last 10 years. BMW have had the same interior since the E60 5 series. He says models mustn’t radically change, is he drunk?

    • Takunda Mapako

      I agree, he doesnt make any sense in his argument. Mercedes still akes amongst the best cars on the planet right now!

  • Thomas Mahlangu

    There are cars and there’s a Mercedes Benz,the best or nothing!!

    • Takunda Mapako

      Agree! the best or nothing…

  • Thomas Mahlangu

    Mercedes is the best car among the better ones,started with a C230k,then C350 AMG,Now a Beast C63 AMG(the best natural aspirated engine in the world)Ask Aston Martin why is it using Merc engines!!