Top Design Challenges in the Automotive Industry Today


In our previous blog A Decade of Change, we talked about the ever-changing mindset of the consumer and how the digital age has changed the way cars are bought and sold. How does this affect the designers and the design process?

Here are a few of the customer demands that have been driving these changes and how this creates a new challenge for automotive designers:

  • Consumers want to be different: When it comes to the exterior of a vehicle, that is what everyone around the driver sees and how they are interpreted on the road. It’s all about that first impression. A stylish exterior increases the driver’s confidence and shows off their personality to all the strangers on the road as well as their colleagues they park next to every day. Consider how many cell phone covers are out there and how everyone wants theirs to be “one-of-a-kind”. Now amp that up to the relative investment dollars of a new vehicle and still accommodate the vast array of consumer preferences…
  • Rider safety: Accidents happen. One major consideration is child car seats. The way the seats are anchored into the vehicle, how well the rigid and bulky devices can fit both on the seat and through the door, and how many car seats can fit in a vehicle are a major factor in the vehicle selection process for driving parents. Side airbags, window height, visibility from the front to the back and visa versa… all of these can determine what type of drivers in the market for a particular vehicle.
  • Going Green with Electric/Hybrid: Reducing the demand on gasoline comes with a requirement to get the same driving experience. The use of lighter materials and the creation of smaller models without jeopardizing the comfort and spaciousness desired is a delicate balance and one that will either include or exclude potential target markets.
  • Cool and Comfortable Materials: The more leather the better.  When it comes to the interior, consumers want the look and feel to be classy, yet easy to clean. From the use of color, the feel of surface materials, the support and style in the seats, designers are tasked with giving drivers the comforts of home while on the road.
  • Technology: Remember when having a carphone or DVD player was a huge deal? It goes without saying that the ease of use and accessibility to the technical interface are key factors in the consumer’s selection process.

Ultimately, these consumer demands have tasked designers with managing more models with more options and the right combinations of the two. The ideal to have everything you want at a price-point you can afford has created a new market where “luxury” meets “practicality”. Do you face challenges we didn’t mention in this post? Share your thoughts below.



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Ananda Arasu is a Product Marketing Manager at Autodesk with focus on Automotive products and solutions. Ananda has a background in applications engineering, product management and product marketing. He has been with Autodesk for over 4 years in a product marketing capacity, with a focus on automotive solutions.His aim is to understand automotive customer needs and communicate the ways in which Autodesk’s products can best meet those needs.

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