You Know When an Idea Looked Better in Your Mind?

Automakers have graced us with magnificent works of design over the past decades. However, the path to such excellence has surely had missteps here and there as well

2024 Hyundai Kona

Product design is a tricky field. If you search for ten sources, you will most certainly obtain ten different ideas of what to do. And each of those is likely to have yielded many good and bad results in the past.

There are many tried and true solutions in use. However, people usually tell you to avoid them because the very fact that they are popular makes them forgettable. At a first look, it is better to try and innovate.

That idea may attract more attention to your company and even build it a new market niche. And that has actually happened many times. But it is also easy to see such ideas fail to convert that hype into sales.

Fortunately, successful ideas are very common in the car industry. But we can spot exceptions every now and them. I am going to show some car design trends that… should not really have gone to production.

1990s Ford car design trend

If you need context about this topic, let us use some history. One of the first cases of bad car design trend I can mention is Ford’s in the 1990s. The Scorpio and the Taurus above are the most famous examples.

Ford wanted to use the logo’s oval shape as the main theme. As you can see, it would appear on central consoles, grilles, handles, lights, mirrors, window frames… pretty much everything except for the wheels.

There is no doubt that we could associate those shapes with Ford. The problem is that using one motif on everything forced it to adopt many different sizes and shapes. The result looked distorted, exaggerated.

The maker rushed to revert that car design trend in the end of the decade. While it was an emergency fix, it looked much better. The main reason is that it brought the balance those cars so desperately needed.

What makes a bad car design trend?

In a nutshell, imbalance. Using a visual element too many times, using too many of them at once, making it too big… The opposite is also true: excessively discreet items simply do not make a car design trend.

All automakers want their design to make a statement. However, they must work hard to find that sweet spot even if it means toning down their original idea. Otherwise, they will end up under heavy criticism.

I believe that this problem has become more frequent over the past few years. There are more brands and products than ever in the market. Their fight for attention is getting more intense and prone to mistakes.

Then again, we all know what is said about beauty. While I consider the car design trends below negative, you are welcome to disagree. I did my best to keep my own preferences aside when writing about them.

BMW giant grille

Hyundai futuristic shapes

Mercedes-Benz star theme

Renault angular shapes

Volkswagen grille-less

Lexus spindle grille recovery

Author Profile

Danillo Almeida has explored his passion for cars in two distinct ways. The first one is his graduation course in Mechanical Engineering, which will hopefully lead to a job position in the field. The other one is expressing his knowledge and opinions on the matter through writing. Almeida has already contributed to blogs, stores, and websites in general writing automotive content in many formats.